Does Disney Plus Include Hulu?
Even though the concept of streaming media has been in the popular consciousness for more than a decade, we’re really only seeing the beginning of the streaming wars starting to kick up in 2019. Netflix has spent much of the decade as the premiere streaming location, signing multi-million dollar deals with companies like Starz, CBS, and even Disney. One by one, however, it seems like each media mega-corporation has looked to create its own streaming platform. Premium cable channels like HBO, Showtime, and the aforementioned Starz have all poured their time and effort into creating their own apps, or offering them as add-ons for companies like Amazon Prime. Meanwhile, CBS has built their own All Access streaming service, premiering reboots or continuations of shows like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone.
Over the next year or so, it seems like every company under the sun has their own streaming platform coming. Apple TV+, DC Universe, HBO Max, Criterion Channel, Peacock—at this point, streaming is starting to begin to feel a lot like cable. All of this ignores the giant in the room: Disney Plus is about a month away from launching, and it’s ready to suck the air out of the room for its competition. Starting at just $6.99 for a huge backlog of classic movies and television in addition to all-new originals, Disney Plus is shaping up to be a major platform before it even launches.
And that’s without mentioning Disney’s other streaming service, Hulu. Hulu didn’t launch as a Disney product—in fact, it used to be owned by many familiar names, including Disney, 21st Century Fox, Warner Media, and NBCUniversal (which itself is owned by Comcast). But with Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s media branches, along with WarnerMedia and Comcast agreeing to sell their shares of the company back to Disney, the service is now fully under control of the House of Mouse.
That leaves a few questions left to be considered. Is Hulu going to be a part of Disney Plus? Will Hulu continue to operate as its own media brand, or will it be folded under Disney’s ever-evolving umbrella? And is it possible to get Hulu as part of your Disney Plus plan? Read on to find out.
First things first: No, Hulu isn’t shutting down. Despite being owned by Disney, the company currently has no plans to shutter Hulu, and actually see it as a way to offer content to their viewers that skews more adult. While Disney Plus has content for the whole family, from children’s programming like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series to more mature content like The Mandalorian, nothing quite compares to the adult content in certain Hulu originals like The Handmaid’s Tale. In the eyes of Disney’s management team, combining Hulu’s output into Disney Plus will only serve to make the service more complicated, with parents having to set up explicit content blocks instead of being able to trust the service. In other words, Disney sees the value of keeping Hulu operating as its own brand, even aiming to increase production of Hulu’s original programming under their ownership.
It’s also worth noting that, while Comcast may be selling their stake in Hulu, as always, things are a bit more complicated than they seem. Comcast now operates as a silent partner, unable to sell their 33 percent stake at market value until 2024. Likewise, NBCUniversal (which is owned by Comcast) will continue to license their content to Hulu until 2024 at the earliest, though with NBC launching Peacock in 2020, those deals may be renegotiated to be non-exclusive.
Will Disney Plus Include Hulu?
At the basic price of $6.99, you won’t get Hulu included with Disney Plus. They’ll operate as individual plans, with Hulu running you $5.99 per month in addition to your Disney Plus plan. Of course, it’s easy to get Hulu included in plans you already have. If you’re a Sprint subscriber and you’re on their unlimited plan, you get Hulu included with your data. Likewise, if you pay for Spotify, you also can link your Hulu account to get Hulu streaming for free (at least, for the foreseeable future).
If you can’t get Hulu included in a bundle with Sprint or Spotify, you aren’t out of options. Though Disney Plus and Hulu cost $12.98 per month when paid for separately, Disney also plans to offer a bundle for subscribers that includes Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus for one monthly payment of $12.99, basically netting you ESPN Plus for free with your subscription.
Now, that said, if you don’t plan on ever using ESPN Plus—which runs $4.99 on its own—we think you should stick to paying for the two services separately. If you bundle Hulu with Disney Plus, you lose the option to upgrade your plan to Hulu’s ad-free subscription, which also allows you to download episodes of your favorite shows onto your mobile devices. Hulu’s separate $5.99 plan also allows you to watch content on two screens at once per account, but if you bundle your subscription with Disney Plus, you’ll only be able to watch Hulu on one screen at a time.
Hulu’s gone through a lot of changes over the years, beginning life as a free online streaming service and eventually evolving into a fully-paid platform to rival Netflix. Although there was a time where it looked like Hulu might not make it, the service has evolved into a mainstay in the streaming world. There’s likely a lot of changes in Hulu’s future over the next decade, but under Disney’s watch, it should continue to offer streaming television and movies perfect for a night in—all while co-existing with Disney Plus.