Disney takes over Hulu, plans to launch streamer globally

2019-05-15 11:51

Cape Town – The Walt Disney company has taken over operational control of the Hulu subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service in the United States with immediate effect.

Although no time-frame was given for its roll-out in international markets or which markets it will include, the likely roll-out of Hulu in South Africa and Africa will not just mean even more, and more intense, competition between existing video streaming services.

The Walt Disney Company already plans to launch its video streaming service Disney+ on 12 November 2019, but South Africa and Africa isn't part of it immediate international territories plan according to its recent Disney+ presentation it did in April.

The Walt Disney Company that already owned two-thirds of Hulu has agreed to acquire the one-third stake in Hulu that was still held by Comcast's NBCUniversal. Disney is now taking over full control of the streaming service.

So far South African viewers have seen Hulu Originals content on MultiChoice on channels like M-Net (DStv 101) and its Showmax service like The Handmaid's Tale, Marvel's Runaways, The Path, Future Man, Castle Rock and others that are distributed and available locally because Hulu doesn't have its own platform.

Should Hulu however launch in South Africa that content funnelling could stop as it keeps shows for itself, in the same way, that MultiChoice and M-Net was able to acquire Netflix shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black from Netflix, and shows like Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle from Amazon Prime Video before they launched their services in South Africa.

Bob Iger, Disney CEO, on Tuesday, spoke at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York and said: "we have plans to roll out Hulu internationally in a variety of different markets".

Speaking about the traditional pay-TV operator bundled services and TV channels that Disney provides and sells content to, Bob Iger said that "is still an important part of our business" but that Disney is pivoting towards streaming where consumers pay for what they want to watch.

"There's much more competition in the world today for people's time and money. It's not competition that comes just from Netflix. It's competition that comes from many, many different directions."

"When you look at what people are spending their money on today, and the fact that people demand a high price-to-value relationship, when they look at a 150-plus channel package, and they realise they're buying a lot of TV channels that they may never find or may not have any interest in watching - I think today's consumer doesn't look as positively at that as they once did. It's just the way of the world."

Bob said Disney isn't trying to damage the existing traditional satellite pay-TV business model. "We're not purposely trying to do anything to damage the bundle because it still has a lot of value. But there's a reality that exists that we had to come to grips with – and not just come to grips with it by basically saying that it exists, but by doing something about it. We're prepared to pivot in a new direction, and we'll see what happens."

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