Hulu and Disney Plus are two names you're going to hear together a lot in the near future. Ever since Disney took over full control of the Hulu streaming service back in May 2019, Disney has clearly seen it as a cornerstone of its streaming strategy, and a strong relationship between Hulu and Disney Plus is a huge component of that. As a sign of Hulu's healthy future, for example, it recently announced a partnership with cable network FX, which will make original content for the streaming service.
If you’re based in the US and looking to sign up to a TV streaming service, you may well be thinking of choosing either Hulu or Disney Plus. The two platforms are very distinct in terms of content libraries and interface, though, and you might want to consider having both.
UPDATE: Take a look at our Disney Plus review to see what we think of the new service. Check out our Disney Plus hub, too, including info on how to sign-up. We've also revealed our top three Disney Plus titles that we just can't get enough of right now, and the best movies on Disney Plus.
It's possible, though, you just want to pick one. Previously your choices between streaming services were likely to take the form of Hulu vs Netflix, or Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video. Now that Disney Plus has launched in the US, though, there's a new big player in town competing for your eyeballs, and it has plenty to draw subscribers. Where Hulu may have an advantage, though, is in its range of more mature content, while Disney Plus is primarily focused on family-friendly movies and shows.
So what do you need to know about Disney Plus and Hulu? We've got everything you need in the guide below.
Disney Plus and Hulu: basic overview
Disney Plus is the new Disney streaming platform that launched in the US on November 12. It's a one-stop home for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic programming, and is likely to make a big dent in the share of online streaming enjoyed by the current big dogs.
Hulu, on the other hand, has been around in some form since 2008, with various iterations of its online TV catch-up service existing over the years, including a separate online portal called Hulu Plus. The offering is a bit more streamlined these days, with a central Hulu platform for streaming TV episodes, movies, and more – and a close relationship with major US broadcasters ensuring high-profile content regularly hits the service.
Disney, though already a shareholder, increased its 30% stake in Hulu to 60% through its purchase of 21st Century Fox – begun in 2017, completed in early 2019 – which had also had a 30% stake in Hulu. Disney then bought a 9.5% stake from AT&T, while Comcast agreed to relinquish its control in Hulu to Disney with a formal acquisition to be organized in the coming years.
Disney Plus and Hulu: cost and bundles
For now, Disney Plus costs just $6.99 per month in the US or $69.99 per year. There's only one pricing tier, meaning every subscriber gets the same content library and up to 4K resolution (and HDR) streaming for compatible films and shows – without any ads, either.
Hulu's cheapest pricing plan comes in at $5.99 per month, though that is an ad-supported plan. To get rid of commercial breaks during shows, you'll have to subscribe to the $11.99 per month plan, though a handful of programmes (New Girl, Agents of SHIELD, Grey's Anatomy) will still have the occasional ad. There are also options to add live TV channels for a total $44.99 per month, or to add services like HBO, Showtime or Cinemax for a $10-15 increase.
The key thing to consider here, though, is the option of bundling Disney Plus and Hulu together.
Disney has announced a joint bundle that includes Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN+ for a highly affordable $12.99 – the same price as Netflix's Premium Plan. For three separate content libraries, and a broad range of US television, that's a pretty good deal.
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Disney Plus and Hulu: features and user interface
We finally got to test out the Disney Plus interface in our Disney Plus review. We found it was well-organized, with a clean UI and a clear breakdown of its different content verticals (Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, etc). It's not hugely different from Netflix in its use of a topside banner ad and scrolling lists of titles beneath it – albeit organized more by brand than genre.
Hulu has a much more streamlined interface now than it has in years past, and has finally added offline viewing after around two years of talking about it. Hey, it took a while, but it's a useful feature.
Disney does, however, allow for up to seven user profiles and four screens streaming simultaneously – unlike Hulu, which will only allow one stream at once per account.
Hulu is also one of only two streaming apps on the Nintendo Switch console – along with YouTube – and Disney Plus will not available on Switch for the foreseeable future. Both Hulu and Disney Plus can be found on a wide range of smartphones, browsers, streaming sticks and smart TVs – though Disney Plus won't be on the Amazon Fire TV Stick at launch.
Disney Plus and Hulu: content
Disney Plus already has many big-name properties on the service, and there's plenty of hype for its fleet of new exclusive shows, including Marvel shows like Loki or Hawkeye, and the Disney Plus Star Wars live-action TV series The Mandalorian, which is already proving to be a hit with fans.
We've been promised every Disney film ever made on the service, meaning many classic Disney animation and modern live-action films are there to enjoy – we've got the impression from Disney that titles will be coming and going each month though to shake up the offering, so not everything is likely to be available at once. New Disney films will then be added to the service within the following year after a theatrical release.
There won't be the same volume of titles as on Hulu, though.
Hulu has close relationships with ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, streaming big-name shows from each network the day after they premiere. There’s also plenty of content from the likes of Bravo, Comedy Central, FX and a large back catalog. Notable shows include Saturday Night Live, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Marvel’s Runaways – while Hulu's relationship with anime streaming service Funimation means you're getting a lot of good anime shows (Bleach, One Piece, Naruto, My Hero Academia) thrown in too.
There's clearly plenty of scope for Disney to leverage its existing IP beyond the big screen, and its purchase of 20th Century Fox brought 30 seasons of The Simpsons to the service, which is a huge win.
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So, what does all that mean for you?
Disney Plus and Hulu offer something quite different to their respective subscribers. The Disney platform will be more of a repository of Disney movies and content geared around its five specific verticals, while Hulu acts more as a general on-demand portal for TV shows from US broadcasters.
Disney Plus will be the least irritating option at the $5.99 price tier, given Hulu still includes ads at that price. For versatile pricing options, though, there's more choice and personalization with Hulu's various plans.
At the end of the say, the $12.99 bundle for Hulu (with ads), ESPN+ and Disney Plus offers the most value, though you can save an extra dollar by not signing up to ESPN+ and subscribing to the other services separately.
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