After treading water for most of the past three years, it seems Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock is back in favor with investors. Anticipation over the long-awaited launch of its streaming video platform, Disney+, spiked after the company’s investor day, which provided details about the upcoming service. So far this year, Disney stock has gained nearly 26% in response.
Early last year, ESPN+ launched as a companion to Disney’s popular sports cable channel. Additionally, Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox gave the company control of Hulu, which is the third-most-popular streaming service, behind Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Prime Video from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).
One immediate advantage Disney will have over its rivals is that the company could potentially launch its own skinny bundle, offering Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu at a discounted price. Let’s look at three reasons why this could be a huge hit with consumers.
ESPN+ will attract sports fans
One of the biggest draws of broadcast and cable TV is the ability to watch sporting events. Live sports is the No. 1 thing consumers who have (or plan to) cut the cord miss (or would miss), according to the 2019 Consumer Over-the-Top report by OpenX in collaboration with The Harris Poll. Nearly a third of those surveyed (31%) cited sports as the deciding factor. That’s not stopping the cord-cutting trend, however, as ESPN lost 2 million domestic subscribers in fiscal 2018.
This illustrates that there’s an unmet need for sports programming among cord-cutters. In April 2018, Disney launched ESPN+, and the stand-alone premium subscription service grew to more than 1 million members in less than six months. By Feb. 2019, its subscriber count had doubled to more than 2 million.
A package that included sports programming like that provided by ESPN+ would certainly spark interest.
Live news programming is still a thing
You might be surprised to learn that the second-biggest attraction of traditional and cable TV is live news broadcasts, with 22% of cord-cutters saying they miss local and national news programs, according to the report.
While Disney+ hasn’t announced plans to add any live news programming to the platform, the company could eventually include ABC News from its media networks division as part of the platform’s content. Then there’s Hulu. In addition to its ad-supported plan for $5.99, the service also offers ad-free viewing for $11.99 and its own skinny bundle — Hulu + Live TV — for $44.99 per month.
If Disney were to offer a package that included live news programming, from either ABC News or Hulu’s Live TV, there would likely be a lot of takers.
Show me the money
Of course, the biggest attraction for many people — besides the desired programming — is the potential for savings. Of those surveyed, 71% said the main reason they cut the cord is to save money, with respondents pocketing $78 per month on average.
Consumers currently subscribe to three streaming services, on average, to fill the cable void, with the top choices being Netflix (86%), Amazon Prime Video (53%), and Hulu (49%). This illustrates another finding of the survey: that viewers are building their own bundles. The average consumer currently spends a total of about $30 per month on over-the-top services but would be willing to spend nearly $100 in order to have access to their most-desired content, according to the report.
Offering a skinny bundle that included Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu for a discounted price would probably appeal to a large number of viewers — especially if the price is right.
A position of strength
Disney+ will be a welcome addition to the portfolio of products offered by the House of Mouse. The combination of Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Disney movies, as well as the wealth of television content from Fox and Disney, will surely attract a huge number of subscribers. Disney+ will debut on Nov. 12 for a monthly price of $6.99, or an annual fee of $69.99. Gaining the ability to add some variation of Hulu and ESPN+ at a discounted price will be a worthwhile value proposition to many viewers.
It will ultimately be a win-win for the viewing public and for Disney investors.