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Disney’s long-awaited plan to bring it into the 21st century is finally beginning to reveal itself.

Expand chart
Data: Company and analyst reports; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Its acquisition of AT&T's minority stake in Hulu shows that the entertainment giant is more invested in bundling its services as an attractive alternative to Netflix, rather than building a standalone Netflix killer.

Between the lines:

  • In a must-read piece for Vulture, Josef Adalian argues that Disney's plan is to use Disney+ as a gateway to create other streaming destinations that may one day cater to different types of audiences around the world.
  • This, Adalian argues, is not too far off to the theme park model Disney uses to showcase its mega-franchises, like Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.
  • Hulu, of course, would be one of those destinations, as would its sports subscription bundle ESPN+ and its Indian streaming behemoth Hotstar.
  • The company said last week that it might sell Hulu as a part of a bundled service with Disney+ and ESPN+.
  • AT&T said Monday that it's selling its minority stake of Hulu into Hulu's streaming video joint venture, giving Disney a total of 66% ownership of Hulu and Comcast/NBCUniversal a 33% ownership.

Be smart: Pricing matters, and analysts are bullish on Disney's $7 monthly bill.

  • BTIG Analyst Rich Greenfield explains in a note to clients that Disney's price points look attractive compared to some of its premium cable counterparts, like Showtime and Cinemax.
  • As for WarnerMedia's pricing plans: "Even if we can justify HBO’s existing premium price point of $14.99, with Disney+ in the marketplace at just $6.99, it would appear to make the launch of a premium to HBO-priced WarnerMediaFlix service challenging," Greenfield writes.

Yes, but: For now, it's worth noting that everyone is losing money in the streaming wars.

  • A recent analysis from MoffettNathanson projects that Disney won't start making money off Hulu until 2023, and it won't make money off of its other services by then either.
  • Netflix raised its long-term debt last year by another $2 billion.
  • AT&T says it will use the proceeds from the Hulu transaction to reduce some of its massive debt load that it incurred from the Time Warner deal last year.
  • Disney told investors it thinks it can get 60–90 million global subscribers in the next five years. That's still a far cry from Netflix's 139 million global subscribers, and the company projects that it brought in another 9 million last quarter.

The bottom line: Via Adalian: "People need to stop thinking of the streaming wars as a zero-sum game — but it will have some serious and legit competition among folks who want to cut the cord and programming costs."

Go deeper

Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.