Considering Disney invested in Hulu all the way back in 2019, before outright buying the streaming service at the start of November, it seems a little overdue. However, a combined Disney Plus and Hulu app is finally happening – and a beta test is being held for it very, very soon.
The revelation comes straight from the mouth of Disney CEO Bob Iger, who confirmed the news during Disney's Q4 2023 earnings call (as reported by IGN). During its Q3 2023 earnings call three months ago, Iger confirmed Disney Plus and Hulu were joining forced to take on Netflix, with the app merger set to occur by the end of the year.
Now, we know the new app will enter beta testing in December, with an official launch in the first few months of 2024 – so that schedule is still in place.
One barrier to the combined app was removed last week, when Disney moved to buy out the 33% stake that Comcast still had in Hulu. Now that Disney has full control, it can get on with the business of offering one single supercharged streaming app, as well as continuing to offer Disney Plus and Hulu as single entities.
"We remain on track to roll out a more unified one-app experience domestically, making extensive general entertainment content available to bundle subscribers via Disney Plus," Iger said. At the same time, Disney's Q4 2023 earnings report also confirmed that Disney Plus has surpassed 150 million users for the first time. For comparison, Netflix is estimated to have around 250 million.
What it means for streamers
There are some caveats here. Firstly, as we mentioned, Disney Plus and Hulu (and the Disney-owned ESPN) will continue to be available separately, if you prefer. The unified Disney Plus and Hulu app will only be available to Disney Plus bundle subscribers, a deal which currently costs $9.99 a month with ads and $19.99 without.
Secondly, the new 2-in-1 app is only going to be available in the US – that's perhaps not surprising, considering Hulu is a US-only service. There has been speculation that Disney might eventually launch Hulu outside of the US, which would mean any unified app could be available internationally, but at the moment it seems unlikely.
Right now, users outside of the US can get some Hulu content – including Murders in the Building and The Bear – via Disney Plus Star, another of the 'brands' inside Disney Plus (like Star Wars and Marvel). It doesn't cost anything extra, and doesn't need a separate app, so in some respects the Disney Plus and Hulu merger has already happened outside the US.
When the new Disney Plus-Hulu mega-app is fully operational next year, it'll certainly be one of the biggest shake ups the streaming landscape has seen so far. If you're wondering how all these platforms currently compare, check out our best streaming service guide.
You might also like
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.