What happened to Hulu after Disney took over?

by:Ennas      2021-11-03
Zhitong Finance APP learned that there is no doubt that the health incident is a boon to the video streaming industry. Streaming media companies such as Netflix (NFLX.US) have seen a surge in service subscriptions, and third-party aggregators such as Reelgood have also recorded a significant increase in streaming media usage time data. This trend is not surprising, but in the meantime, Hulu, a streaming media platform owned by Disney (DIS.US), seems to have missed this feast. Hulu is a joint venture controlled by major broadcasters, and its number of users has been lagging behind Netflix and Amazon (AMZN.US) Prime, despite its rich service content and radio and television programs, and the use of 'The Handmaid's Story' Won the Emmy Award for Best Drama. For a long time, as a joint venture, Hulu has been in a forgotten position in the streaming media industry. Last year, after Disney acquired its majority stake through a deal with Fox (FOXA.US), this situation should have changed. Bob Iger, the former CEO of Disney, emphasized the potential of Hulu and plans to inject new original shows for global launch. This service will be very attractive to young people, which Iger likes very much, and it is also favored by advertisers. However, more than a year after Disney acquired Fox, Hulu seems to be forgotten again. In Disney's recent earnings conference call, it announced that it will launch international streaming services through the Indian TV brand Star (acquired in a deal with Fox) instead of Hulu. Hulu's growth was weak during the health incident, especially considering that streaming media is on the rise during this period. Hulu added 5.1 million users in the first half of this year, from 30.4 million to 35.5 million. This number includes users of Hulu’s advertising and no-ads layer, Disney’s recently launched bundles of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, and users of the live TV packages that come with Hulu. This doesn't look bad. Netflix's market share is about twice that of Hulu, but its user growth rate in the United States in the first half of this year is about the same as Hulu. But Hulu seems to have missed the best time to increase market share, and due to the pulling effect of the health incident, user growth may now have slowed down significantly. What happened to Hulu? Disney+ took away resources. Disney+ has become the dominant player in the Disney streaming camp. Since its launch in November last year, this service has attracted more than 60 million members, and Disney will naturally put most of its streaming media resources into it. This is a platform that carries, and will continue to obtain, sky-high content like Hamilton and Beyoncé’s 'Black is King'. Disney+ broke the company's expectations because management initially predicted that by 2024, the platform's global users will reach 60 to 90 million. But it reached this range in less than 7 months. But the success of Disney+ has left a bigger question mark for Hulu, because Disney has obtained an excellent return on investment and overall brand promotion from Disney+, while Hulu is only oriented to the US market and its brand positioning is also very unclear. At the beginning of this year, Disney reorganized Hulu, making Hulu independently operated as part of Disney's consumer-oriented business. These changes caused the departure of Hulu's CEO and the loss of Marvel from Hulu to Disney+. As part of Disney’s consumer-oriented business, Hulu is unlikely to gain the resources and attention that Disney+ has, which increases the likelihood of its underperformance. Unable to achieve internationalization Earlier this year, former Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Hulu may be available to the global market next year; however, with the introduction of Star to the world, the possibility of Hulu going out of the United States seems even more hopeless. It is meaningless to launch two global independent streaming services on the basis of Disney+, and Disney+ is also in the global expansion stage. CEO Bob Chapek said on the earnings call that Hulu does not have any form of internationalization plan. He explained that Hulu aggregates third-party content, and Star will provide Disney-owned content from other sources such as ABC Studios, Fox TV, FX, and so on. It must be admitted that Hulu has no brand awareness outside of the United States, nor does it have any authorized content. If Disney pushes Hulu outside the United States, it is basically equivalent to starting from scratch, and Hulu's advertising business cannot easily transition to the international market. In summary, considering Star's strength in India, it is obvious why Disney does not intend to promote Hulu to the world. Has Hulu been abandoned? It was launched in 2008, but it has been losing money. The company was expected to lose 1.5 billion US dollars last year, but now it has become part of Disney, and its performance has been included in Disney’s consumer-oriented business. Hulu has many assets, including a strong advertising business, average revenue per user is much higher than Disney+, and a wide range of content, but this brand exists in a no-man’s land. Disney has agreed to take full control of Hulu in 2024 and acquire Comcast (CMCSA.US) shares for at least US$5.8 billion. However, after the explosive growth of Disney+ and Star’s global expansion, Hulu’s future seems to be different. unclear. As Hulu's growth after the health incident is likely to flatten out, Disney may take action on this irrelevant streaming service, such as selling it or merging it with the high-end version of Disney+. Judging from the current situation, operating a loss-making business without major investments or expansion plans seems to be a mistake.
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