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Disney plans heavy investment in Hulu, wants more original series

Disney is gearing up to launch its own standalone streaming service next year, but that doesn’t mean the company is giving up on another prominent streaming platform — Hulu.

Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed questions about Hulu’s future during Disney’s recent investors’ earnings call, and he noted plans for expanding internationally while building up Hulu’s original content slate. The company could see a much larger stake in Hulu following the company’s acquisition of Fox. Iger told investors the company has no plans to abandon ship, and it wants to expand Hulu’s presence as a streaming service.

“Given the success of Hulu so far in terms of subscriber growth and the relative brand strength and other things too like demographics, we think there’s an opportunity to increase investment in Hulu notably on the programming side,” Iger said.

Part of those expansion plans means making Hulu available in international markets. Hulu’s biggest competitor, Netflix, has seen immense growth, thanks to its international market, whereas domestic growth has notably slowed down over the last quarter. Iger’s plan to offer Hulu’s content to an international audience and build upon series from FX and Fox is one method of trying to substantially increase subscriber counts. It’s unclear if Hulu will follow in Netflix’s footsteps and invest in more foreign original series for its international subscribers, but Iger said those conversations will happen once the company takes majority control of Hulu.

“After the deal closes and after we have the 60 percent ownership, we’ll meet with the Hulu management team and the board, and discuss what the opportunities are in terms of both global growth and investing more in content,” Iger said. “But that’s something that we have to do after the deal closes.”

If Disney plans to expand into European markets, the company will have to ensure that its content offering matches new impositions from European regulation. That means more original content for international foreign countries could be on the way, but it won’t happen for quite some time. Disney’s acquisition of Fox is expected to be completed in 2019.

Disney+, the company’s standalone streaming service, will launch with an assortment of high-profile original series and a backlog of Disney original content. Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role as Loki for a standalone Marvel series, and Diego Luna will return to the Star Wars universe for a standalone Star Wars series. He joins Jon Favreau, who is working on a separate standalone Star Wars series called The Mandalorian.

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