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Fischer: Disney puts Hulu on its X-Mas list

By Travis Fischer,

Called it.

Just days after pondering why Disney seems so intent on pricing people out of individual subscriptions to Disney+ and Hulu in favor of bundled packages, Disney announced that it is going after the remaining 33% of Hulu that it doesn’t yet own.

Once a joint venture between major television networks, or their parent companies, Hulu has been an unusual pioneer in the streaming landscape for more than a decade and a half now. Looking back, it’s actually kind of interesting to see how it has evolved and reinvented itself over time.

Fischer: Disney puts Hulu on its X-Mas list
Travis Fischer

For a long while, Hulu was where ABC, NBC, and Fox offered online access to their programming. For a few years it was an outright alternative to regular broadcasting. You could set shows you want to follow to a favorites list and new episodes would automatically populate as they became available, functioning kind of like an online TiVo service.

Over time though, Hulu has moved away from its roots as the broadcast alternative. Mostly, I presume, because streaming itself has all but overtaken broadcast television as the dominant delivery model. These days, Hulu operates more or less like every other service out there, offering up a mix of whatever movies and TV shows it can either license or produce in-house.

Disney, parent company of ABC, became the majority stakeholder of Hulu when it acquired 21st Century Fox in 2019. Since then, Disney has shared the remaining third of the company Comcast, NBC’s parent company.

With NBCUniversal’s launch of Peacock, there’s little reason for them to resist a Disney buyout at this point. Every network broadcaster in the game has their own streaming service now, so it looks like the Hulu consortium is finally coming to an end.

So what happens to Hulu?

I suppose it will be up to Disney.

In theory, there would be nothing stopping Disney from shutting down Hulu completely and rolling all of its content into Disney+. Everything you could ever want to watch all in one place.

However, I don’t think that’s how it’s going to go. Disney may want to own everything, but it doesn’t seem all that big on consolidation. After all, there are a lot of popular Fox properties that aren’t on Disney+ yet. The “Alien” movies or “The X-Files” for instance, remain on Hulu.

This could simply be due to pre-existing streaming contracts, but it seems more likely that Disney is aiming to maintain a specific brand image on Disney+ that doesn’t exactly mesh with everything the corporation owns. With the exception of “Deadpool,” “Venom,” and similar superhero-related exceptions, there isn’t much on the service that runs contrary to Disney’s usual family friendly image.

Surely Disney wants a home for content like that. Hulu is already right there and most of that content is on it already.

This move will surely call for more concerns about mega-corporations buying up everything, but let’s be real here. Disney buying something from Comcast is hardly moving the needle in that regard.

Mostly, I’m curious to see what, if anything, changes once this acquisition is complete. Will Disney overhaul Hulu now that it’s under their complete control? Will NBC dump the estimated $8 billion it’ll receive into Peacock to shore up its own offerings?

Whatever, so long as the price doesn’t hike again.

The price isn’t gonna hike again… right?


— Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and is due for a re-watch of “The X-Files.”

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