A “hard bundle” of Disney Plus and Hulu could be coming in the next few years if Disney CEO Bob Chapek has anything to say about it. Chapek spoke with the Los Angeles Times during Disney’s big fan event, D23, this past weekend. It was one of the first times he’s spoken about the company and the myriad of controversies it has reckoned with over the last two years. Most of what he said was very neutral, but then they got onto the conversation of the future of Hulu, the streaming giant currently co-owned by Comcast, and Chapek showed his cards… just a little.
Disney is currently on the hook to buy out Comcast’s stake in Hulu as early as 2024. The two companies are haggling over what Hulu is actually 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 fully under Disney’s control, there are a lot of questions about what will happen to the service. Will all its content get shuttled over to Disney Plus? Or will Disney Plus content move to Hulu? Or will the two continue to just exist in this weird and super confusing state?
Chapek was very careful in his interview not to show his hand, telling the Times that he’d only entertain the question once Disney bought out Comcast’s stake. He offered a few solutions for the eventual future. One was aping the European version of Disney Plus that has all the Disney content alongside more adult fare like 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 together into one app,” which is the 2023 plan for Discovery Plus and HBO Max. Finally, there’s the “soft bundle” the company currently offers.
But ultimately, “the consumer essentially dictates everything,” Chapek told the Times. And according to Chapek, consumers want “a frictionless experience,” and it sure sounds like that experience mimics the “hard bundle.”
And it makes sense! The current bundle is not sustainable. The Hulu with Live TV bundle nets you Hulu and Hulu Live TV and ESPN Plus and Disney Plus, and I don’t think a single person — apart from streaming media nerds — would know that you get all of those things from that one bundle. Disney and Hulu are trying to educate the public with the somehow more confusing “Hulu+++” advertisement campaign that acknowledges the confusion created by the bundle and then just… triples down. Yet, no weird ad campaign or crummy name can solve the problem of a bundle as well as just… an app that handles everything — even if it means your kids might ask you to watch The Bear after the third screening of Encanto that day.