Disney+ Streaming Merger Will Distract You, but Won’t Lower Prices, Says Top Executive

in Disney, Movies & TV

Promotional banner for disney+ showcasing three upcoming titles: a blue-themed poster for "wish" featuring a smiling woman, a "star wars: ahsoka" poster with a dual lightsaber-wielding character, and a fiery poster for "elemental".

Credit: Disney+

If you thought that the upcoming unprecedented streaming bundle combining Disney+, Hulu, and Max might save you money, don’t hold your breath. According to a top Warner Bros. Discovery executive, the plan is not to lower prices for consumers but to make them feel like they’re getting a good deal anyway.

Mickey Mouse with the Disney+ logo
Credit: Inside the Magic

Earlier this week, The Walt Disney Company (which recently bought out Comcast’s minority share in Hulu) and Warner Bros. Discovery, two major rivals in the streaming wars, announced plans to offer a new bundle that combined their services. In the near future, consumers will be able to sign up for Disney+, Hulu, and Max (formerly HBO Max) in a single-priced bundle, much as the Mouse House currently offers bundled packages of its propriety services.

Unlike those offers, this is an unprecedented business move. Two major streaming companies, which are in direct competition with each other, are teaming up to provide a single service, which may or may not come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission as a potentially monopolistic practice.

Related: MCU Officially Abandons Disney+, Moves to Rival Streaming App

Triforce of Mickey Mouse, WB, and Fox
Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney, which has already been struggling to figure out a way to make streaming content profitable in the long term, is already a defendant in one anti-trust lawsuit. Along with this new announcement of a merged bundle, Disney is already planning on going into business with Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox Corp. for a mega-sports streaming service that would presumably include ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNews, ABC, Fox, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, and ESPN+ and basically every major and collegiate sports league.

This plan is being sued by FuboTV, which is calling it an attempt to “monopolize the market, stifle any form of competition, create higher pricing for subscribers and cheat consumers from deserved choice.”

This new Disney+/Hulu/Max bundle might come under the same scrutiny soon, but for now, executives like Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav are promoting it as an industry-changing move. In particular, Zaslav is leaning on the tech-world buzzword “disruptive,” which might not be as interesting to actual customers as it is to investors in Silicon Valley.

warner bros discovery david zaslav
David Zaslav
Credit: Warner Bros Discovery

David Zaslav said (via Variety), “I said a while back that this is a generational disruption. I went through a generation of disruption — not quite as big as this — but, you know, when my career started, when the cable business was a real disruption. And as we look at what happens ahead, there likely will be a, you know, a restructuring of how people view content.”

Noticeably, there is no indication of how this might actually benefit customers because neither Disney nor WBD have mentioned anything about the price point of the new bundle. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and president of global streaming and games JB Perrette said it would be “priced very attractively,” which is very much not saying that it will actually lower costs for subscribers.

Related: “Not Sustainable, Not Acceptable”: CEO Bob Iger Gives Up on Disney+

The new logo for Max streaming service
Credit: HBO Max

Instead, JB Perrette revealed that the intention behind the bundle was not to lower the prices that consumers paid, but to make them feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. He said:

“Even if they don’t use a service in one month, [consumers] still feel like they’re getting great value and they might use it the next month, and so it’s got a lot of rationale by pulling these together and makes us all be able to go back to investing in the areas that we really are great at.”

It is fair to translate that as saying that a bundle allows Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery to charge subscribers for services that they don’t actively use while also making consumers feel like they’re getting a good deal. Furthermore, the income for both companies allows them to “invest” in unspecified “areas.” For no particular reason, here are the details of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s $31 million salary, including over $2 million in bonuses for 2023 alone.

At the moment (and it keeps rising), the cost of the Disney+ and Hulu ad-free bundle is $19.99/month, and the standard ad-free Max plan is $15.99/month. If this new trio bundle is anything less than $35.98, consumers are being taken for a ride, even if they feel good about it.

Will you sign up for this new streaming bundle? Tell us in the comments below!

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