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Study: Hulu More Popular than Disney+, but Disney+ Subscribers Are More Loyal

Joshua Thiede

Disney must be proud of its bundle-buddy as Hulu gains more subscribers for its parent company than Disney+. Even so, more Hulu watchers cancel their subscriptions than their House of Mouse counterparts, indicating that popularity doesn’t necessarily equal loyalty.

For 18 of the past 24 months, subscribers have been choosing Hulu over Disney+, according to a study from the entertainment analysis firm Antenna. While Disney CEO Chapek has set a goal for Disney+ to hit 230 to 260 million global subscribers by 2024, shareholders and investors see this as an unrealistic assessment of Disney+’s future. Given the recent deal that saw Disney opt for the linear broadcast rights for Indian Premier League cricket instead of maintaining the streaming rights that they inherited via the Fox acquisition, many expect the streamer’s global subscriber totals to drop significantly in 2023 after being buoyed by cricket-crazed subscribers.

Additionally, data indicates that Disney’s focus on streaming has had an overall negative impact on the company’s share prices, which have fallen by approximately 40% this year alone. Facing an $887 million loss and $6 billion over the life of Disney+, investors may have a point.

In addition, Disney+ is increasing the price of its ESPN+ service to $9.99 per month and $99.99 annually, a move it hopes will further drive its customers to Disney+ bundles. While this may anger some subscribers, it might just be the push that Disney needs to remain relevant in the streaming market.

Another option may be a buyout of Hulu outright. Currently, Disney is the majority shareholder which gives it control over Hulu, but it is still prohibited from fully integrating Hulu’s app into its own. If the two services were inextricably linked, Hulu’s value to its customers would prop up Disney+ at the same time. Disney is also working to incorporate more adult-themed content into its flagship streamer, which may make the service more attractive to a wider audience.

As it stands, Hulu’s popularity mainly comes from its varied catalog which appeals to a much more general viewership. Disney+ is seen as a family-friendly streamer, which makes the scope of its potential subscriber base much more focused. Switching that viewpoint may not be possible since Disney has worked for decades to craft a family-oriented image.

Upon its initial launch, bundling ESPN+, Hulu, and Disney+ was an excellent idea as it grabbed a wealth of subscribers looking for more content at a better price. Unfortunately, data suggests that this was only short-term growth and Disney must now fight its own branding if it wants its premier streamer to outpace Hulu.

One obvious advantage that Hulu has over its corporate sibling is the ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) market. Disney+ has been making moves in that direction, hoping to release its own AVOD tier sometime later this year. The lower-priced tier is expected to make Disney $1.8 billion in ad-related revenue by 2025. While it may not be reflected in subscriber numbers directly, Chapek may count that as a big win for his company.

Even so, associations with Hulu aren’t as stable as investors would like to think. A January study found that Hulu had some of the highest churn rates (how many consumers end their relationship with particular companies) in the industry. As content shifts from platform to platform, consumers are hopping on to a service to watch their preferred content and dropping it as soon as it is done. Alternatively, Disney+ hangs on to its customers, a net win for the company even with a smaller subscription base.

Analysts also believe that branding could be a huge problem for Disney+ moving forward. Even bundling services may not be able to provide the stability that the media conglomerate is seeking as subscribers may be unwilling to pay for streamers that they are never going to watch. Disney may hope that its flagship platform’s association with Hulu will bring in more subscribers, but consumers may simply switch to other alternatives that have similar content without the baggage of services they don’t intend to use.

Disney+

Disney+ is a video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages.

Disney+ has two plans – one with ads and one without ads. Disney+ Basic with Ads costs $7.99 / month. If you don’t want ads, you can choose Disney+ Premium with No Ads which costs $10.99 / month.

The Premium plan also offers an annual option for $109.99 / year ($9.17/mo.).

If you want all of Disney streaming services, they have two options for The Disney Bundle. The Disney Bundle Basic includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ (with Ads) for $7.99 / month. The Disney Bundle Premium (without Ads) for $19.99 / month.

The app supports unlimited downloads (on their Premium Plans), four simultaneous streamers, up to 7 profiles, 4K streaming, and includes hundreds of avatars.

The service includes 25+ new original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault. You can stream original series like “The Mandalorian,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Loki,” “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” and “Andor.”

You can see the full list of available Disney, Disney Channel, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo shows and movies, or all available Disney+ content by checking out our Disney+ Streaming Movie List.

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