Hulu has launched its new “FX on Hulu” hub today, a collection of some of FX’s biggest shows that’s also Disney’s biggest overhaul of the streaming service since it acquired control over both FX’s catalog of content and a majority ownership of Hulu in its $71 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox last year.
“FX on Hulu” is Disney’s attempt to give Hulu a voice within an increasingly crowded streaming market, and a reason for people to continue subscribing. All of the FX content is included in Hulu subscribers’ regular plans. Disney is already a major player in the family-friendly streaming space with its successful launch of Disney Plus, but “FX on Hulu” is meant to win over adults — and sell more of its $13-a-month bundles at the same time. It’s already working. Hulu now has more than 30 million subscribers in the United States alone — about half of Netflix’s domestic subscriber base — and is bringing in more through the Disney Plus deal.
The “FX on Hulu” hub collects 40 of the network’s most popular and beloved series (Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, Nip/Tuck) with some of its underrated classics (Terriers, Thief) and new original shows that will exist exclusively on Hulu (Devs). The new hub is meant to replace FX Plus, a standalone ad-free streaming service that cost $6 a month and included 1,400 episodes of FX programming, that Disney shut down in August 2019. Certain popular series like American Crime Story and Pose aren’t available to stream on Hulu yet because of pre-existing licensing agreements with streamers like Netflix, an issue that also plagued Disney Plus at launch, too.
The hub will also include next-day streaming for shows airing on FX’s broadcast network; meaning that new episodes of shows like American Horror Story’s tenth season will be available to stream less than 24 hours after they air.
FX is one of the few networks that consistently receives Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and its shows are some of the most talked about. Having a back catalog of more than 1,600 episodes also gives subscribers a chance to revisit, catch up on, and watch classic shows that they may have missed the first time.
Hulu, which relied on licensed entertainment for a long time while its biggest original rival, Netflix, dove headfirst into original titles, will lose those shows and movies when competitors like HBO Max and Peacock launch. Without an array of originals being pumped out every week like Netflix does, Hulu needs something to make it stand out — FX is that.
“FX on Hulu” is an attempt to make the streamer a necessity for people in a year when they’re figuring out which streaming platforms they should pay for year-round instead of switching up when needed. Disney, whose own streaming platform Disney Plus came under scrutiny for not having enough to keep people subscribed after The Mandalorian, is trying to turn Hulu into a must-have.
“I think it’s a really good thing because of the brand FX represents,” former Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC in November. “Meaning the power of its programming, the quality of its programming. I think it’s a great thing for Hulu and good for FX.”
Disney hasn’t tried to hide how important Hulu is to its plan for streaming dominance. Now that Disney Plus has launched in North America, and with the UK rollout just around the corner, attention is shifting slightly. Iger told investors on a recent earnings call that Disney plans to roll out Hulu internationally beginning in 2021. Those markets are heavily dominated by niche, location-centric streamers, Netflix, and Amazon. Bringing Hulu to international territories and making it the exclusive home of FX content is a smart play at selling Hulu to new audiences.
FX is one of the most important networks. It’s the crown jewel in Disney’s plan to keep adult subscribers, and make Hulu a massive streaming platform both inside and outside the United States. The relationship is key to Disney’s streaming bundle and reminding people that it can do more than family-friendly content, especially with Fox’s IP and production studios now in its house. Whether or not people actually subscribe for FX content will take some time to figure out (assuming Disney decides to publicly share viewership numbers), but it’s a sign of how ambitious Disney is with its streaming strategy. FX is one of TV’s most premium products — now it’s on Hulu.