Disney announced its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Thursday and used the ensuing investor call to talk extensively about Hulu, ESPN+ and its upcoming Disney-branded streaming service, which will be called Disney+.
Disney+ is launching in late 2019—the company has yet to reveal pricing—and will be filled out with content from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic along with Disney’s library of film and television content. Original series on the service will include a live action Star Wars series called “The Mandalorian,” a series based on the “High School Musical” movies and a series based on Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” The service will also house original films.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said he recently saw an early prototype of the app and said it will feature “elegant navigation, personalization and content, segmented primarily by our core brands namely Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and the soon to be added National Geographic.”
“It will blend library product with original content under these five brand banners and we are confident it will be a compelling consumer proposition. We're planning an investor conference in April to provide more insight into our DTC strategy including a first look at Disney+ along with some of the content we're creating for it,” Iger said.
Disney also said that, even though it won’t be getting Sky in Europe out of its $71.3 billion deal for 21st Century Fox, it’s still planning on launching Disney+ in Europe at some point. The same goes for Hulu, of which Disney will own 60% following the Fox deal, and which has yet to launch anywhere outside of the U.S.
Iger said that even though Disney will need to respect Hulu minority shareholders Comcast and AT&T with respect to any decisions it makes for the service, he sees opportunity to ramp up investment in Hulu and potentially raise prices for the service.
He said that the expanded studio power Disney will have after buying Fox will be used in part to create more original content for Hulu. He also said that Hulu’s generally younger viewer demographics make it an attractive platform for advertisers.
Hulu has already passed 20 million subscribers and it has 1 million people signed up for its live TV service. ESPN+ only launched six months ago, but Disney said that service has already passed the 1 million subscriber mark. The service currently features content and live games from the NCAA, MLB, NHL and MLS, and will be adding UFC in January.
Iger said the plan for ESPN+ continues to be licensing and producing content that is solely owned and controlled by Disney.
“We think it would quickly get very complicated if we aggregated content that was really owned fully by other entities. And we think we have enough right now and we'll be able to continue to license more,” Iger said.