What Disney’s Full Control of Hulu Means for the Consumer and the Streaming Wars

Big news today on the subscription streaming services front! Yet another battle was fought and won in the ongoing saga of the Streaming Wars. Effective immediately, Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu. It’s been an interesting ride the last few months, but up until this morning, NBC Universal (the division of Comcast that includes NBC, USA, Universal Studios, and MSNBC) owned 40% of the streaming service while Disney owned the majority stake with 60%. It appears Disney wasn’t happy with just 60% and wanted the full 100%. While the good news is that Hulu can now be distributed internationally, the bad news is that a lot of content will eventually go elsewhere. Though this is great for Disney’s bottom line, it is bad for the consumer.

Disney is planning to release its own new streaming service later this year with Disney+, so initially one might be inclined to believe that owning a second one would be cannibalizing. However, Disney has let on that their plan is to host more family-oriented content on its own service and stream their adult-oriented content on Hulu. If a consumer could only pick one of the two, they certainly still have that option. On the other hand, the unfortunate truth for the consumer is that these developments ensure that streaming content isn’t as cost-saving as it once was. For a number of years, if you wanted to cut the cord in favor of streaming, the go-to choices for subscription were Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. Just having internet and these three services gave you access to a ton of content and was cheaper than paying for an expensive cable bundle full of channels and services you would never use. Other niche services have come along and tried to cut into those Big 3 but have never been anywhere near as popular.

Today, Netflix is losing a sizable chunk, upwards of 20%, of its content while simultaneously creating an overwhelming amount of its own programming and increasing subscription prices. Disney now exclusively owns Hulu along with Disney+. No one knows what Amazon’s plan is, but their UI still looks like it was built in 2011. Meanwhile, Apple is ramping up their eventual service, CBS All Access is (kinda) going strong, and today’s developments almost assuredly mean that NBC Universal is planning to release their own service in the near future. And I haven’t even mentioned DC Universe or WarnerMedia. While today’s developments mean that we, as consumers, will have more choice and availability of content than ever before, it also means that cord-cutters will be squeezed dry so that it’s not as viable of an option as it used to be.

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