How Disney Gobbled Up Hulu

Jordan

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Photo: Disney

Disney+ represents only the surface of what Disney has planned to dominate the streaming wars.
This is a company that isn’t happy with merely being a player, they have to become the game itself.

The Slow Burn

Like a snake devouring a squirrel, Disney has spent the last year slowly devouring Hulu with its unhinged jaw and unchecked power.

Their plan was slow, but their goal unwavering. Disney won’t stop until they control 100% of what you see and experience every second of the day.

What many people may not know is that only a year ago Hulu was being run in a joint partnership between Disney, Fox, and Comcast.

Disney was only a third partner, a position the company isn’t used to holding.
Can you imagine a Disney executive sitting the table and their word not becoming law?

Neither could they.

Their first move was to acquire Fox in March of 2019, an enormous move that flew directly in the face of anti-trust law — although nobody cares about a silly little thing like that anymore.

Overnight Disney became the majority shareholder of Hulu with a 60% controlling share.
This was good and made Disney feel strong, but owning most of something is never enough.

Disney and Comcast only managed to work together for two months before a deal was struck for Disney to acquire the remaining 40% of Hulu off Comcast. The deal required Comcast to relinquish their rights within 5 years, with full ownership and control passing to Disney by 2024.

This has naturally affected the deal between Hulu and NBCUniversal regarding its licensed programming. (Because NCBUniversal is owned by Comcast).
Starting next year and continuing in phases over several years after that, NBCUniversal is going to be allowed to pull content off the site and add them to their brand new streaming service 'Peacock.'

Shows that are owned by NBCUniversal include The Office, Law and Order, Will and Grace, 30 Rock, and Saturday Night Live.

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Photo: Disney

Rocking the Boat

The most recent change to Hulu that’s bringing attention back to the problem was the resignation this week of Hulu chief executive Randy Freer.

Freer has been running Hulu since 2007 but was facing a reduced role at the new 100% Disney controlled version of Hulu.
He wasn’t interested in taking a demotion to continue working at Hulu and chose to quit instead.

In his place, Kevin Mayer the chairman of international and direct-to-consumer operations for Disney will be taking his place.
Mayer isn’t just the chairman of non-American customers, he’s also the guy who’s already running Disney+ and ESPN+. That’s right, Disney is streamlining production and is bringing all streaming platforms under the direction of Mr. Mayer and his merry men.

Although Mayer is taking over the platform, he isn’t taking over the role of chief executive at Hulu — because it’s a role that no longer exists.

Synergy

Much like combining Disney Animation Studios and Pixar under one man and one vision in the early 2000s, Disney is doing the same thing with Disney+ and Hulu.

No longer will Hulu run independently, instead it’ll become merely another department within the Disney machine.
Much like Disney+, Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line; Hulu will become another platform through which Disney will be able to push its properties and expand its message.

Part of the reason Disney franchises can become so massive is because of the vehicles through which they’re able to push their message. Look at Marvel for example.

Marvel has been pushed through TV, constant movies, merchandise, and experiences/attractions at the parks and at sea.
There’s nowhere you can turn to avoid seeing an Avenger, and that’s how they get to you.
You no longer see the Avengers as something you either like or dislike, or a franchise you either want or don’t want to see.

Instead, the Avengers became a lifestyle you’re living. They’re everywhere, you know every character, and you took that quiz on Facebook whether you wanted to or not.

Which Avenger are you? — Click here to find out now…

Hulu stopped being an independent platform a long time ago and has slowly morphed into the latest Disney vehicle with which they can funnel their message directly into your eyeballs.
And now that there’s no-one left at the table, there’s no-one left who can say no to anything they want to do or change.

Disney++?

In spite of all this, I don’t personally believe the platform will be integrated into Disney+.
Disney has to maintain the illusion of competition to avoid too many people realizing that almost the entire entertainment industry is just Disney at this point.

Instead, Disney is going to have Hulu and Disney+ “compete against each other” and absorb all remaining customers. Those that love Disney will get Disney+, those that don’t will get Hulu.

Regardless of which side you’re on, Disney is getting your money.

Hulu also gives Disney a platform on which to stream content that doesn’t suit the Disney+ brand, such as adult or violent content. (Mostly content created by previous rival Fox).

Keeping Hulu around also allows Disney to pretend that “iron-clad contracts” are what’s preventing them adding all of their IP onto Disney+, as opposed to the true reason.
That reason being the fear that once all of their current IP is live they’ll have nothing else left to add until the Mandalorian has a second season that’s ready to go.

Keeping Hulu alive is a convenience at this point. Any semblance of independence died when Randy Freer took his leave.

You’re in Mickey Mouse’s house now, and you’d better like it because eventually there won’t be any other option.

Mwahaha?

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I’m a well travelled writer who loves nothing more than a well polished video game, an expertly crafted sandwich, and a hot mug of Milo.

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