LOS ANGELES—A combined Disney+ and Hulu offering would account for the largest share of the top 100 titles of any US subscription video-on-demand service, at about 30%, a wide lead over second-place Netflix’s 23%, according to a recent study by Ampere Analysis .
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Hulu is currently owned by Disney (67%) and Comcast (33%), who are set to reach a sale agreement in January 2024. However, recent reports suggest that Disney intends to close a deal earlier to take a 100% stake and integrate the streamer into Disney+ as a combined offering, giving subscribers access to popular titles from Disney’s Marvel Studios or Lucasfilm and Hulu originals such as Just murder in the building and The Handmaid’s Tale.
Currently, Hulu Plus Live TV subscribers already get a free subscription to the premium or ad-supported versions of Disney+ for either $70 or $76 per month
Amper says a merger “seems logical,” as Disney’s share of Hulu content has grown significantly, suggesting the company has continued to invest significantly in the platform. Since September 2016, the share of Hulu’s catalog for which Disney owns the distribution rights has tripled, from 6% of all movies and TV shows to 19% by September 2022.
Meanwhile, the major studios without streaming platforms have reduced their contribution to Hulu’s content slate (down from 81% in 2016 to 71% in 2022), and those with their own streaming services have generally maintained or reduced their input. Specifically, the combined content from NBCUniversal, Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery less than 10% of all TV shows and movies on Hulu.
Ampere says removing content from Hulu to support newer services like Peacock, Paramount+ and HBO Max poses a threat to Hulu’s competitiveness. The streamer has already lost very popular titles such as America’s Got Talent (to Peacock), films and TV series set in the Star Trek universe (to Paramount+) or Family Matters (to HBO Max).
If major studios reclaim their proprietary content, Hulu could lose 10% of its total catalog. That number rises to 37% of Hulu’s 100 most popular titles, using Ampere’s Popularity Score metric, which tracks total online engagement with a title, the research firm said.
“The threat of additional popular or critically acclaimed titles leaving Hulu for rival platforms is a concern, as engaging content is critical to subscriber retention, especially as the US SVoD market approaches saturation,” said Christen Tamisin, analyst at Ampere Analysis. “This risk makes the case for Disney to merge Hulu and Disney+ into a single platform stronger.”
“On the other hand, Disney+ and Hulu’s complementary catalogs mean that a combined platform will have a more diverse content offering – similar to other major market players – than the two standalone platforms currently have. While the Disney brand has long been associated with family-friendly content, Hulu has a broader appeal for a general audience, offering a wide range of genres and more adult-oriented titles.”
The report was released a day after Disney announced that former CEO Bob Iger would return, replacing Bob Chapek, who is stepping down.