Nasdaq Report – The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for the video streaming industry. Subscriptions for services like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) have surged, and third-party aggregators like Reelgood have also reported a sharp jump in streaming time.
Will Disney Plus End Walt Disney ?
That trend isn’t a surprise given the stay-at-home mandates and advisories during the crisis, but one well-known streaming brand seems to be missing the party. Walt Disney‘s (NYSE: DIS) Hulu, born as a joint venture of the major broadcasters, has long lagged Netflix and Amazon Prime in subscribers, even though the service has a slate of strong content — it offers television programs straight from the broadcast networks, and has taken home an Emmy award for outstanding drama for The Handmaid’s Tale, something Netflix has yet to accomplish. Its longtime status as a joint venture made it something of a forgotten stepchild in the streaming industry, but that was supposed to change when Disney took majority control with its Fox deal last year.
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger touted the potential of Hulu, and planned to infuse it with new original programming and launch the service internationally. He also liked the service’s appeal to young adults, which advertisers favor.
Disney+ has stolen the show
Disney+ has become the juggernaut in Disney’s streaming arsenal. The service has brought in more than 60 million members since its launch last November, and it’s naturally where Disney is investing most of its streaming resources. It’s the platform that is hosting highly anticipated releases like Hamilton and Beyonce’s Black is King, and will continue to get that kind of marquee content.
The platform has shattered the company’s expectations, as management originally forecast it to reach 60 million-90 million subscribers globally by 2024. It hit that range in less than seven months.
But Disney+’s success leaves an even greater question mark hanging above Hulu, as Disney seems to be getting a better return on its investment and overall brand lift from Disney+, a global platform, rather than Hulu, which is only available in the U.S., and whose brand identity seems muddled.
Disney restructured Hulu at the beginning of the year, making what was an independently operating business a cog in Disney’s direct-to-consumer segment. Among the changes was the departure of Hulu’s CEO and the loss of Marvel shows on Hulu that moved to Disney+. As part of Disney’s larger direct-to-consumer business now, Hulu is unlikely to get the resources and attention that Disney+ does, increasing its chances of underperforming.