Disney begins integrating Hulu into Disney+ streaming service

FILE PHOTO: Cast members Martin Short, Selena Gomez and Steve Martin attend a premiere for season 2 of the television series "Only Murders in the Building", in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

(Reuters) - Walt Disney began offering Hulu as part of its namesake streaming service on Wednesday, bolstering Disney+'s family-friendly content with more general entertainment fare, such as FX's intense kitchen drama "The Bear" and the popular reality show "The Kardashians."

The combined offering, known as "Hulu on Disney+", will be available in an early "beta" version to domestic subscribers to the Disney Bundle of streaming services. The formal launch of the integrated service is scheduled for March.

Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors last month that the company would begin offering a "unified one-app experience" that would make Hulu's programs, including "Only Murders in the Building" ABC's "Abbott Elementary," adult animation stand-outs like "Family Guy," available to certain Disney+ subscribers.

"We expect that Hulu on Disney+ will result in increased engagement, greater advertising opportunities, lower churn, and reduced customer acquisition costs, thereby increasing our overall margins," Iger told investors in November, during the company's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call.

Iger is under pressure from investors to make Disney's streaming business profitable. In the quarter that ended on Sept. 30, Disney reduced operating losses to $420 million, representing a dramatic improvement from the prior year, when operating losses exceeded $1.4 billion.

The company said it is on track to achieve profitability by the end of fiscal 2024.

Disney initiated the process of acquiring the remaining stake in Hulu from NBCUniversal parent Comcast, for at least $8.6 billion, which cleared the way for the integration.

Hulu will occupy its own "tile" on Disney+, alongside the company's other entertainment brands, such as Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, and be included in the promotional carousel at the top of the app.

(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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