Hulu’s role in Disney strategy

9 February, 2023

Disney is in the spotlight again, with its 2022 Q4 earnings being released on February 8, 2023. The company has a comfortable position in the streaming market: its streaming platform, Disney+ is one of the fastest growing platforms, with demand for its original content up by 392.5% since its debut at the end of 2019. This growth has been sustained and powered by some of the most valuable IP owned by the company, like the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, which provide the company with a number of new shows with an already established fan base.

One of the most interesting topics regarding Disney Company’s streaming strategy has been Hulu’s role in it. The platform is part of the Disney Bundle, which also includes Disney+ and ESPN+. According to Parrot Analytic’s demand data, Hulu’s TV catalog was more in-demand than any other SVOD catalog in the US market last year. Considering total catalog demand, which includes the demand for both movies and series, Hulu’s catalog is second to Netflix only. 


The chart shows how Hulu fits into Disney’s streaming strategy. While Disney+ is a streaming platform that relies more on movies (60.4% of its catalog demand comes from movies), Hulu’s catalog is overwhelmingly based on TV series (76.7%). Together, Disney+’s and Hulu’s catalogs makeup almost a quarter of the total demand for all content available on SVODs in the US, above all the other platforms and even above the demand share of a potential HBO Max and Discovery+ catalog merger.

Despite the high dependence of Hulu’s TV catalog on licensed content (almost 90.0% of its TV demand comes from licensed series as opposed to original content), a higher share than any other of the main streaming platforms, both its licensed and original content contribute to attracting subscribers to the Disney Bundle.

The audience make-up for both Disney+ and Hulu originals paints a clear picture of two complementary platforms that, combined, have something to offer everyone.  While Disney+’s flagship Marvel and Star Wars series have audiences that skew younger and male, many of Hulu’s most in-demand originals appeal to an older and more female audience.  Disney+ and Hulu combined create the proverbial ‘four-quadrant service’ that today’s entertainment leaders are chasing.


Looking at the most in-demand original shows from both platforms, we have two Star Wars shows at the top, The Mandalorian and Andor, both with exceptional demand in the last quarter of 2022. These shows are closely followed by The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu’s most in-demand original show, with 32.9 times more demand than the average show that period.  Two other Hulu originals appear in the ranking, The Orville and Only Murders in the Building, both with outstanding demand during that period. This shows that there is demand for non-Superhero/Adventure franchise titles in the Disney Bundle.

The Hulu/Disney+ originals ranking is dominated by Disney’s franchise titles. Both the Marvel Universe and the Star Wars Franchise contributed three shows each to the top ten. Another Disney+ show in the ranking is The Santa Clauses, a Christmas show that is part of The Santa Clause film series and had outstanding demand in the last holiday season, following its release in the middle of November 2022.


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