With the Coronavirus crisis causing major problems for the Walt Disney Companies finances, streaming has become a major success point for the company.
During this weeks quarterly investor call, Disney announced Hulu has grown to 32.1 million subscribers in the United States and Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked about the future of Hulu internationally.
Given the crisis has accelerated the shift toward streaming around the world, any change in your plan to pursue Hulu international launches next year? I could understand reasons to accelerate. I could understand that — the potential sort of costs of launching Hulu could also have you considering delaying that?
Okay. In terms of our interest in Hulu internationally, given everything that’s happening, you said you can make an argument either away, frankly we, long term, are still bullish about Hulu international. Right now though, given the cash situation and the sort of uncertainty around our overall business, we’ve got no plans immediately to make any investment in that business internationally. But that again is short term only because of the COVID situation that we’re sort of faced with.
Disney has previously said they wanted to launch Hulu internationally in late 2021, after they have finished the launch of Disney+ globally. Currently Disney+ has over 54 million subscribers globally and is scheduled to launch in more countries later this year.
This could explain why many Hulu and 20th Century Studios shows and movies have been made available on Disney+ and the streaming platforms. Such as Modern Family, which was added to Netflix in the U.K. last week. Since if Disney is in no rush to launch Hulu internationally, smaller short term contracts would keep revenue coming in, which the company needs.
Disney hasn’t announced any specific international plans for Hulu, however while it has a controlling interest in the streaming service. Comcast/NBCU still has a 33% ownership interest in Hulu. As early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCU’s interest in Hulu. By the same token, Disney can require NBCU to sell its interest to Disney for its fair market value at that time.
Hulu is the home of many Disney brands including ABC, Freeform and FX.
Are you looking forward to Hulu rolling out internationally?