Hulu and Disney Plus are two TV streaming services that may seem like competitors, but are anything but. Sure, they're both competing for your time – you can only watch one TV show at a time, after all – but Disney's acquisition of Hulu in 2019 means that the line between them is now slightly blurred.
That's especially the case when it comes to subscriptions, with a highly tempting bundle deal that packages in both platforms under one monthly price (but more on that below). So you may well end up choosing both rather than sticking to one over the other – especially given how different Hulu and Disney Plus in terms of their content libraries. The former generally has more mature content, while Disney Plus is primarily focused on family-friendly movies and shows.
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The Hulu branch of Disney also allows for some collaboration elsewhere that might have seemed unlikely – such as Hulu sharing the hit sitcom Community with viewers over at Netflix. Netflix and Disney Plus have been at loggerheads from the start, with Netflix's Marvel properties such as Luke Cage and The Defenders being cancelled outright as Disney geared up to launch its own slate of Marvel TV shows.
You may also want to consider some of these other rivalries, such as Hulu vs Netflix or Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video. But if you're here to compare Disney Plus and Hulu, and try to make a decision between them, here's everything you need to know.
Disney Plus and Hulu: basic overview
Disney Plus is the new Disney streaming platform that launched in the US in late 2019. 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 – as you can see in our Hulu plans and prices guide.
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 it seems like 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.
You'll get every Disney film ever made on the service, too, meaning many classic Disney animation and modern live-action films are there to enjoy. New Disney films will be added to the service within the following year after a theatrical release – as we've seen with Frozen 2 and Onward in recent months.
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 Disney Plus service, which is a huge win.
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Hulu vs Disney Plus: how to choose?
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 burdensome 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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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.