The pricing is identical to the rate for the most popular Netflix subscription. The bundle will offer a $5 discount from the cost of subscribing to the platforms individually. It also adds a live sports element to a bundle package, which will enable cord-shavers and others re-examining their pay-TV docket one more option. It takes effect with the launch of Disney+ on November 12.
CEO Bob Iger announced the widely expected move during the company’s third-quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts.
It was a rough quarter for Disney, which reported results well below Wall Street forecasts, sending the company’s stock down in after-hours trading. The company blamed costs related to the integration of the former 21st Century Fox assets and worse-than-expected weakness at the Fox film studio.
The company has talked for months about the plan to unify the three services, which Iger has called the “three legs of the stool” in the company’s streaming strategy. In May, Disney swung a deal with Comcast to assume operational control of Hulu, which lowered the price of its basic, ad-supported tier to $5.99 in January. Hulu’s live TV bundle is not part of any bundling effort, at least for the moment.
At its investor day earlier this year in Burbank, Disney forecast rapid growth for its streaming services. Disney+, it predicts, will have 60 to 90 million global subscribers by fiscal 2024, most of them outside of the U.S. Hulu, which does not yet operate internationally, reported 28 million subscribers, with Disney projecting 40 million to 60 million by 2024.
ESPN+, which launched in the spring of 2018, passed 2 million subscribers earlier this year and is on pace for 12 million by 2024, Disney has said. While it does offer plenty of live action as well as exclusive programming featuring famed ex-players like Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning, ESPN+ alone does not offer the full meal of sports that the full ESPN does. For SEC football games, NBA playoff games and other top-rated attractions, a streaming subscriber would need more than the new Disney bundle.
Asked by an analyst about the state of Disney+, which will be the first of several serious attempts by traditional media and Big Tech to offer serious competition to Netflix, Iger rattled off several statistics about the launch. It will hit the market with 300 film titles and 7,500 episodes of Disney TV series. Eight of the films will be from the Star Wars franchise, 18 will be Pixar, 70 will be from Disney Animation and four will be Marvel. In the first year of operation, he added, the number of film titles will rise to 400, with eight more Marvel titles coming aboard.
The three-stream bundle, he said, offers “tremendous volume, tremendous quality and tremendous variety for a good price.”