Hulu on Disney+ Officially Launches, and Disney Will Go Harder With Bundle Upsell Pitches

Subscribers to both Disney+ and Hulu will now see the “full” Hulu experience in the Disney+ app — and the Mouse House wants to use the official launch of the integrated product to convert standalone Disney+ customers into two-service subs.

Starting Wednesday (March 27), the full Hulu on Disney+ experience is rolling out in the U.S. That means Hulu titles will be integrated into personalized content recommendations, sets and collections on Disney+. Under the previous “beta” integration, which launched last December, Hulu content was presented in a separate hub on Disney+.

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Stitching Hulu tightly into Disney+ is aimed at driving up total viewing hours among customers who already have both streamers — but who may not necessarily be aware of the breadth of content they can watch. Higher engagement with a streaming service is correlated with lower cancelation rates.

Meanwhile, standalone Disney+ subscribers in the U.S. will be in for a harder sell on Hulu. They’ll see Hulu content promoted in the app — accompanied by new upgrade options in multiple places in Disney+ and across additional devices prompting them to get Hulu. Bundle plans with both services cost $9.99/month with ads ($2 more than Disney+ Basic with ads by itself) and $19.99/month without ads (versus $13.99/month for standalone Disney+ Premium). Disney+ and Hulu each remain available as standalone offerings.

Disney is launching its first marketing campaign for Hulu on Disney+, touted as a 360-degree initiative that includes out-of-home placements, custom broadcast and digital ads, cross-branded social media posts and bicoastal “experiential stunts,” including on-site activations at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. (Watch the first Hulu on Disney+ spot below.)

The overarching message: “Disney+ and Hulu are better together! And they’re available for one unbelievable price,” said Joe Earley, president of direct-to-consumer for Disney Entertainment.

In addition, with the Hulu on Disney+ launch, the Disney+ logo has been updated with a color scheme the company calls “aurora” — a nod to both the heroine of “Sleeping Beauty” and the aurora borealis — that blends Hulu’s green and Disney+’s blue. The rollout branding also features a new orchestral “mnemonic” audio mark for Disney+ created by Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson (hear it at this link).

Disney doesn’t disclose how many subscribers take its streaming bundles. Customers with multiproduct offerings in the U.S. are counted as a paid subscriber for each service. As of Dec. 30, 2023, Disney+ had 46.1 million U.S. and Canada subscribers (down sequentially from 46.5 million after price increases on the ad-free tier) and Hulu had 49.7 million total (up from 48.5 million the prior quarter).

According to Earley, following the beta launch of Hulu on Disney+, “engagement has exceeded our expectations across every single metric,” including increases in total hours viewed per subscriber and the number of titles watched (but he didn’t reveal numbers). He also said the beta test beat Disney’s internal targets for ad revenue generation.

Hulu’s 70,000-plus TV episodes and movies include licensed content like “Grey’s Anatomy” and original and exclusive programming such as “Shōgun,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Poor Things” and “The Bear.” Those titles will be featured directly in the Disney+ app alongside shows and films from Marvel, Star Wars, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar and more.

Some Hulu titles are unavailable on Disney+ because of content licensing restrictions, as had been the case during the beta-test period. Those include ABC’s hit sitcom “Modern Family” and ITV reality dating show “Love Island.”

The launch of Hulu on Disney+ “marks the most significant technical, operational, and product evolution for Disney+ since its launch” in November 2019, according to Aaron LaBerge, CTO of Disney Entertainment and ESPN. He added that the work that went into combining Hulu with Disney+ will be leveraged for future strategic projects, including merging Star+ into Disney+ in Latin America in June and for the launch of the stand-alone ESPN direct-to-consumer offering in 2025.

For the foreseeable future, the live channels in the Hulu + Live TV package will not be available in Disney+. But LaBerge said the Disney+ tech stack supports the delivery of live channels, noting that ESPN networks will be added to Disney+ in LatAm this summer.

With the addition of Hulu’s general entertainment content — including a bunch of adult-oriented fare — Disney has been encouraging Disney+ subscribers to create profiles for each family member and set kid-friendly ratings where appropriate. According to Earley, eligible Disney+ subscribers have created more than 5 million secondary profiles since the beta launch of Hulu on Disney+. Overall, more than 72% of eligible 18+ profiles on Disney+ are set to the maximum rating for content (TV-MA), which allows those subscribers to access the full Hulu on Disney+ catalog.

Watch the Hulu on Disney+ ad “We Are Going to Be Friends,” highlighting content on both services (set to the White Stripes’ song “We’re Going to Be Friends”):

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