MEDIA

Disney Adds ESPN+ To Hulu

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By Jonathan Easton

Disney has integrated ESPN+ into Hulu as it continues to evolve its DTC strategy.

The company will hope that providing greater access to ESPN+ via Hulu will boost signups to the US$5.99 per month offer, which is the least subscribed to part of Disney’s streaming portfolio. ESPN+ has benefitted from its inclusion in the ‘Disney Bundle’ of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, but still only has 12.1 million subscribers versus Hulu’s 39.4 million. Disney+ this week surpassed 100 million subscribers globally, the company announced this week.

Disney said that 60 per cent of Hulu subscribers identify as sports fans, and that the content integration will give fans “even more choice and flexibility in how they get and watch sports.”

ESPN+ programming includes UFC, NHL, Bundesliga, FA Cup, Serie A and PGA Tour coverage among others. It also has an extensive catalogue of documentary series and studio shows such as the award-winning 30 for 30 film series.

The company added that Hulu subscribers who also take ESPN+ will be able purchase and watch the sports streamer’s pay-per-view events on Hulu.

Disney has not clarified whether ESPN+ will continue to operate as a standalone platform or be fully absorbed into Hulu.

The company’s decision to bring ESPN+ into Hulu comes at a time when major broadcasters are increasingly depending on sports as a key part of their streaming products. NBCUniversal’s Peacock offers a significant sports package as a part of its premium US$4.99 tier including coverage of more than 175 English Premier League games per season. ViacomCBS meanwhile has made sports one of the tentpoles of its just-launched Paramount+ player, with the broadcaster holding rights to the NFL.

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