“This is for consumers who subscribe to both services,” said Bob Iger, chief executive officer of Disney, during its earnings phone call. “It will benefit consumption... more content than has been offered before.” For Disney, this represents another way of thinking with regard to Hulu.
Disney has been considering the idea of possibly selling its Hulu stake to Comcast. Iger is concerned that there has not been much differentiation in big, general-entertainment premium ad-supported services, including Hulu.
Now Iger sees real value in adding “general entertainment” to Disney+ with Hulu -- especially with regard to advertising revenue. One analyst estimate projects Hulu ad revenue will total $4.82 billion this year.
Disney+ only recently added an advertising option starting last winter.
Disney says consumers will still be able to buy Disney+ and Hulu as separate platforms. At the same time, Iger says, Disney was looking at a price increase for Disney+ later this year.
In somewhat negative news for Disney in its quarterly earnings release, Disney+ streaming subscribers declined 2% year-over-year to 157.8 million, with U.S./Canada subscribers slipping 1% to 46.3 million.
Total Hulu subscribers for its subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service were virtually unchanged at 43.7 million for the period.
In better news, total Disney's streaming business operating losses were trimmed to $659 million in the second quarter of 2023 from $1.05 billion in the first quarter of 2023. A year earlier, in Q2 2022, operating losses amounted to $887 million.
Total Disney direct-to-consumer (D2C) revenues grew 12% to $5.5 billion. The company says there were lower operating losses at Disney+ and ESPN+, and ESPN+ subscribers grew 2% to 5.64 million in the period.
Business at Disney Parks rebounded strongly, rising 17% in revenues to $7.8 million.
Linear TV networks were down 7% to $6.7 billion due to continued pressure on advertising and weaker affiliate revenue, while operating income steeply fell -- 35% to $1.8 billion.
Domestic linear TV channels were down 4% to $5.6 billion.
Overall quarterly revenues were up 13% to $21.8 billion -- largely attributable to Disney parks, experiences, and products.
Disney says its Disney+ service will launch an ad-tier option in Europe later this year.
In after market trading, Disney stock price sank over 4%. At Wednesday’s close, it was down 1% to $101.14.