Disney continues to tighten the bolts among its portfolio of streaming services.
Starting Wednesday (March 10), Hulu now offers access to ESPN Plus sports programming directly in the Hulu app. And this summer, Hulu subscribers — who are also ESPN Plus customers — will be able to purchase and watch ESPN Plus pay-per-view events, including exclusive UFC PPV events.
It’s another attempt by Disney to boost revenue by cross-promoting its streaming products. To access ESPN Plus programming on Hulu, users can purchase the ESPN Plus add-on (for the standard $5.99 per month rate) or take the Disney Bundle, which includes Hulu with ads, ESPN Plus and Disney Plus (which is increasing to $13.99 per month, up a dollar, as of March 26). Hulu subs who already have the Disney Bundle will automatically see ESPN Plus content integrated in Hulu.
Disney chief Bob Chapek called out Hulu’s forthcoming addition of ESPN Plus at the company’s investor day event on Tuesday, where he also revealed that Disney Plus had topped the 100-million customer milestone.
As of Jan. 2, Hulu had 39.4 million subscribers (including 4.0 million live TV customers), up 30% year-over-year. ESPN Plus subscribers rose 83% to 12.1 million. All told, Disney’s streaming services stood at 146.4 million customers at the start of 2021, a 131% increase from the year prior.
According to Hulu, nearly 60% of its subscribers identify as sports fans, leading Disney to surmise that there’s synergy between Hulu and ESPN Plus (both of which are available only in the U.S.).
Hulu customers with access to ESPN Plus will be able to watch thousands of live sports events annually, including soccer matches (such as the FA Cup, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Major League Soccer), UFC, college sports including basketball and football from 20 conferences, and golf coverage from the Players Championship, the Masters, and the PGA Championship and much more. Subscribers also can watch ESPN Plus original shows and series like “Peyton’s Places” and “Stephen A’s World,” plus the entire “30 for 30” documentary series.