Disney Plus and Hulu – why you don’t have to choose

Hulu and Disney Plus are two names you’re going to hear together more and more. Ever since Disney took over full control of the Hulu streaming platform back in May, it’s been clear that Disney plans to make Hulu a crucial part of its entertainment offering, and a strong relationship between Hulu and Disney Plus is a big part of that.

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. For sure, both platforms have quite distinct content libraries, interfaces, and different pricing models – even if a certain bundle option will lead to some overlap.

It’s worth pointing out that Disney Plus won’t be launching until mid-November, so right now your choices are more likely Hulu vs Netflix, or Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video. But for an in-depth guide to Disney Plus and Hulu, read on below.

Disney Plus and Hulu: basic overview

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Disney Plus is the incoming Disney streaming platform, set to launch in the US on November 12. It will be 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

(Image credit: Hulu)

When it launches, Disney Plus will cost just $5.99 per month 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 too, 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.

  • What’s included in ESPN+?

Disney Plus and Hulu: features and user interface

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

We finally got to test out the Disney Plus interface in our hands on Disney Plus review, after the service launched early in the Netherlands. 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. Better late than never?

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 – though there’s been chatter about Disney Plus joining its sister service on the Switch down the line too. 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

handmaid's tale season 4

(Image credit: Hulu)

Disney Plus will have some big-name properties on the service, and there’s plenty of hype its fleet of incoming exclusive shows, including Marvel shows like Loki or Hawkeye, and a DIsney Plus Star Wars TV series called The Mandalorian – not to mention the entire Pixar catalogue.

We’ve been promised every Disney film ever made on the service, meaning everything from classic Disney animation to modern live-action films will be 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, and 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, while its recent purchase of 21st Century Fox will also bring the entire Simpsons catalogue and more to the service.

Take away

Do you want ESPN+ in your bundle?

Do you want ESPN+ in your bundle?

(Image credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

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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