Disney & Hulu going ‘hard bundle’

A “hard bundle” of Disney Plus with Hulu could come in the subsequent few years if Disney CEO Bob Chapek has anything to communicate.

Chapek spoke during the weekend of Disney’s big fan event, D23. It was one of the first junctures he’s talked about the company and the myriad of disagreements it has gauged over the last two years.

Most of what he expressed was very neutral, but then they got onto the discussion of the future of Hulu, the streaming colossus presently co-owned by Comcast, and Chapek revealed his cards… just a little.

The current bundle is not endurable. The Hulu with Live TV bundle gives you Hulu and Hulu Live TV and ESPN Plus and Disney Plus, and we don’t think a single person — apart from streaming media geeks — would understand that you obtain all of those fortes from that one bundle. Unfortunately, Disney and Hulu are endeavoring to enlighten the public with the somehow more incoherent “Hulu+++” advertisement drive that acknowledges the confusion built by the bundle and then just… triples down.

Yet, no strange ad campaign or fuzzy name can solve the issue of a bundle as well as just… an app that regulates everything — even if it means your kids might request you to watch The Bear after the third screening of Encanto that day.

Disney is presently on the verge of purchasing Comcast’s stake in Hulu as early as 2024. The two companies are haggling over what Hulu is worth — with Comcast claiming it could be valued as high as $70 billion. The deal as it stands has Hulu valued at around $27.5 billion.

When Hulu is finally entirely under Disney’s control, there are a lot of questions about what will happen to the service. Some queries are about content getting shuttled over to Disney Plus, Disney Plus content moving to Hulu, and two continuing to exist in this weird and super confusing state. Unfortunately, these all remain unanswered for now.

Chapek was careful in his discussion not to show his hand, saying that he’d only contemplate the query once Disney acknowledged Comcast’s stake. Instead, he offered a few answers for the eventual future. One was aping the European rendition of Disney Plus with all the Disney content with more adult fare such as The Bear and The Handmaiden’s Tale.

Another option was the “hard bundle,” which is a truly fascinating way to refer to “merging the apps into one app,” which is the 2023 plan for Discovery Plus and HBO Max. Then, finally, there’s the “soft bundle” the company currently offers.

But ultimately, “the consumer basically dictates everything,” Chapek said. And it makes sense! According to Chapek, patrons want “a frictionless experience,” and it certainly sounds like that experience simulates the “hard bundle.”