Disney is busy ramping up for the premiere of its anticipated streaming service Disney+, but the company hasn’t forgotten about Hulu. The Hulu library will soon be the home of programming from the cable network FX, Disney CEO Bob Iger said today on a call with investors.
Beginning in March 2020, all existing and new content from FX will live on Hulu, over which Disney took full operational control earlier this year. More than 40 FX original series will also live on Hulu beginning in March. Additionally, four previously announced programs on FX will live exclusively on the streaming service, including the drama miniseries Devs, which is directed by Alex Garland, and the drama miniseries Mrs. America starring Cate Blanchett. Both of those miniseries will be available in March when FX’s content officially migrates to Hulu. FX programming will appear on the streaming service immediately after it airs on linear TV, Iger said.
“FX is a producer of high-quality, award-winning content and will become a key content driver for Hulu,” Iger said, adding, “This is a great way to expand the FX brand and an important step for Hulu as it adds original content to compete more aggressively with new and legacy DTC platforms.”
FX’s had its own streaming home, FX+, which had been around since September 2017, but the ad-free subscription service shut down in August. In May, the same day as Disney’s takeover of Hulu, FX Networks chairman John Landgraf said putting FX content on a platform like Hulu “really expands the dimensions of the brand and what we can do.”
Landgraf said in a statement that the deal represented a “game-changing opportunity for FX.”
“We’re thrilled to have Hulu as our streaming partner with the creation of FX on Hulu, which will be the best and most complete representation of the FX brand, finally putting us on equal footing with competitors like HBO,” Landgraf said. “This will allow us to expand FX’s original programming lineup and to reach Hulu’s growing audience of young and highly engaged subscribers, whom we believe will love these shows.”
The deal will bolster Hulu’s content offerings during a critical time when entrenched services like Netflix and Hulu are staring down deep-pocketed new entrants. HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s foray into streaming, is slated to debut in May 2020, and NBCUniversal’s service Peacock is planned for April 2020. As new services come onto the market, media companies are clawing back the rights to their programming to attract customers to their own services.
Disney is positioning Hulu as one of three pillars of the company’s streaming portfolio, which also includes ESPN+ and the forthcoming Disney+. In the fourth quarter, Hulu had around 28.5 million paid subscribers, Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said today. ESPN+, meanwhile, surpassed 3.5 million paid subscribers as of Nov. 7, Iger said. Disney has offered a bundled subscription to all three services (with an ad-supported viewing experience on Hulu) for $12.99 a month.