With Disney + just five days from launch, it's easy to assume that Disney executives would like to talk to investors during the fourth quarter of their profit on the expected streaming service. Instead, Disney CEO Bob Iger spent much of his time talking about another major streaming service the company has, Hulu.
Hulu already has more than 28.5 million subscribers, but the lack of original programming compared to Netflix and larger libraries from incoming competitors like HBO Max and Peacock may make Hulu feel unnecessary for subscribers. Now that Disney owns Fox, FX can change that.
Hulu is due to become the premiere show for FX titles in early March 2020, Iger announced during an interview with investors. FX is one of the most prestigious networks, often viewed in the same vein as HBO. Known for its absurd comedies and groundbreaking dramas, FX has won 57 Emmys since 201
As part of the arrangement, four upcoming FX series, including Alex Garland's new show ( Ex Machina ) Devs will not air FX at all, but they exist as Hulu exclusive. "FX on Hulu," as they say, also means that most current and all-new FX series will be available to watch on Hulu as soon as the show airs.
FX, becoming a prominent anchor of Hulu, is not too surprising. Iger has partnered with Hulu and FX on previous earnings calls, but if some of its series were redirected to Hulu, it would be a big change for the linear channel. John Landgraf, the visionary leader of FX, has repeatedly spoken about the potentially damaging effects of streaming services and companies such as Netflix, acknowledging that this is where the industry is headed. He recently defended Disney's decision not to run Netflix ads on its entertainment networks (such as ABC), explaining that it "would prefer not to share a scarce resource in an environment where we fight for our lives."  Now that Hulu and FX are about to become interconnected partners, Landgraf reiterated that what makes FX special – the quality of its show programs, will not change. "We are more committed than ever to quality over quantity, with our primary focus on excellence that can permeate the clutter in times of unprecedented consumer choice," Landgraf says in a press release.
The public will notice a change from FX, no matter where they look at it: there will be more. Landgraf told reporters in August after a call from Disney investors that FX would increase production to a level the network had never seen before. As we see with HBO, scale is important when it comes to streaming, and having a permanent list of new shows is a strategy that many companies rely on. Unlike companies like Netflix, which Landgraf has criticized in the past, FX will not "move fast and disrupt things" to keep up. "Doing as much programming as possible as fast as possible has never been done. It works for FX," Landgraf said.
Finding the balance between good serials and movies, and boast a steady stream of new content is what streaming services like Netflix are struggling to correct. Disney strives to use Fox's most popular and beloved networks and studios – not just FX , but also Fox Searchlight – to satisfy both requests. Iger suggested that after the Fox Searchlight deal with HBO (owned by WarnerMedia, owned by AT&T), this studio will also make Hulu exclusive content, and Fox Searchlight is likely to make movies for theatrical consumption as well, but others will become streaming exclusives, unlike the four FX shows.
License deals are complicated. Therefore, some FX titles such as Pose and American Crime Story will not be available immediately in Hulu. Iger mentioned them during the conversation, but he wants to bring as much exclusive content as possible from the Hulu power plant studios. 20th Century Fox also has a deal with HBO, but once it's over, it's likely that Fox films will go exclusively to Hulu. Disney already does this with films of its own. For example, his live-action version of Lady and Trump was supposed to be a theatrical release, but ended with an exclusive title on Disney + launch.
If People Go To The Theater To Watch Movies And Blockbusters From Specific Franchises – Marvel, Star Wars, DC, Pixar, Avatar And More. – Hulu can become a funnel spot for riskier bets that may not perform as well in the box office. Iger told investors that Disney executives do not view streaming services as "entities for themselves, but rather a broader revenue game." Streaming is just one medium of outstanding content, offset by live theater and television.
Having movies from Fox Searchlight and Hulu's FX originals is important to Iger. He told investors that while the realm of streaming is becoming more competitive, people are still attracted to brands they recognize. FX and Fox Searchlight are prestigious names and ideally boast Hulu's identity. "FX will become a key driver for Hulu," says Iger.
It's especially important in light of general entertainment streaming services like HBO Max (not to be confused with HBO Now) and Peacock launches in the coming months. These streaming services, to which Hulu may belong, have less identity than a platform like Disney + or Crunchyroll and rely on a large number of show programs and movies that appeal to a broad subscriber base.
What is clear from the latest Disney earnings call is that despite all the attention Disney has been ahead of its launch, Hulu still matters, and importantly, Disney wants to keep Hulu worthy of its monthly subscription budget . You may think that Disney forgot about Hulu while preparing for Disney + launch, but this is clear from today's call, which is far from the case.