What will happen to Hulu in the wake of the Disney/Fox acquisition? That’s been one of the big looming questions ever since the deal was first floated, and now Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger has given some new insight into what he wants to see happen with the streaming service: he’s looking to add more original programming, and he wants it to expand internationally to compete with Netflix. Read his latest comments below.
When the Fox acquisition goes through early next year, Disney will own 60% of Hulu. There was some early speculation from industry analysts that the Mouse House could end up shuttering Hulu altogether or combining it with Disney+, the company’s new branded streaming service that launches next year. But it sounds like Disney could actually end up making Hulu an even bigger in the streaming wars.
During an investor’s call, Iger spoke about Disney’s plans for Hulu (via The Verge):
“Given the success of Hulu so far in terms of subscriber growth and the relative brand strength and other things too like demographics, we think there’s an opportunity to increase investment in Hulu notably on the programming side.”
That’s good news for those who thought Hulu might go the way of FilmStruck. In fact, Iger also talked about expanding Hulu’s presence to international crowds – a tactic at which rival Netflix has excelled in recent years. Netflix is approaching market saturation domestically, but a while ago it realized there’s a whole world of potential subscribers out there, so they started creating original programming that’s specifically aimed at foreign audiences to try to suck them in, too. Could Hulu do the same thing? It’s possible, but Iger won’t say just yet:
“After the deal closes and after we have the 60 percent ownership, we’ll meet with the Hulu management team and the board, and discuss what the opportunities are in terms of both global growth and investing more in content,” Iger said. “But that’s something that we have to do after the deal closes.”
As soon as the deal goes through (which will reportedly happen on January 1, 2019), the future of Hulu will be at the whims of Iger and Disney executives. That’s a scary place to be – they could snap their fingers and scrap the entire thing if they want to – but it seems as if, at least right now, Iger seems to view Hulu as an asset instead of a liability. Now it’s just a matter of seeing if that mentality holds.
The good news is that Iger has admittedly done a good job of basically putting people in charge of Disney’s assets (Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, etc.) and not micro-managing them to death. The optimist in me hopes that the same thing will happen with Hulu, and that they might even come out of this with better original shows backed with a never-ending flow of Disney dollars. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
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