Disney just showed off why it pays to have practically everything people want to watch under one corporate roof. It allows the Mouse House to offer up all its assorted streaming services in one bundle that's simultaneously attractive to consumers while also ratcheting up pressure on Disney's rivals.
During Disney's quarterly earnings call today (Aug. 6), CEO Bob Iger announced the company plans to offer a bundle featuring the soon-to-launch Disney+ service alongside ESPN+ and the ad-supported tier of Hulu. The bundle will be available in November when Disney+ is slated to launch, and it will cost $13 a month.
Bob Iger says Disney will offer a "bundle" of Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-supported Hulu for $13/month, and the bundle will be available when Disney+ launches in November.August 6, 2019
That's a pretty compelling price when you do the math. Disney+ is set to debut at $6.99 a month. You currently pay $5.99 a month for Hulu with ads, while ESPN+ charges $4.99 for live sports, original programming and access to otherwise gated content on the sports channel's website. Add all that together, and it comes to $18 a month, so this new bundle would actually save you $5.
The $13 monthly cost for Disney's proposed bundle just happens to be the same as what Netflix charges for its standard subscription. Netflix provides lots of original content as well as a library of movies and TV shows, though some of those shows like The Office and Friends are disappearing to rival streaming services from NBCUniversal and Warner Media, respectively, starting next year. Netflix also lacks the live sports that Disney can offer streamers through ESPN+, and Disney can point to a vast array of content that includes movies from Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and its own arsenal of live-action and animated favorites. Expect Netflix to be feeling even more pressure right after it reported its first drop in U.S. subscribers in a decade.
If Netflix is feeling the pressure from Disney, imagine what WarnerMedia and AT&T must be going through after today's announcement. Their upcoming service, HBO Max, doesn't even have a price yet, but it's widely assumed the service will cost more than the $15 a month AT&T already charges for HBO Now. While AT&T has said that live TV will be part of the HBO Max mix, Disney looks like it's already undercutting another rival long before HBO Max's launch in spring 2020.
During today's earnings call with analysts, Iger said Disney+ will offer 300 movies at launch, including Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel titles. The library will grow to 400 titles during Disney+'s first year. Members of the D23 fan club for Disney will apparently get first crack at signing up for Disney+, Iger says.
Some things about the new Disney+ bundle remain unclear, such as whether there will be any discount on the streaming service for people who subscribe to the $45-a-month Hulu + Live TV offering. But after today's announcement, we're getting a clearer picture as to how Disney plans to manage all that content under its control.