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From Merger to Marvel: Why Technology Is Key for Disney to Integrate Hulu

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If the streaming landscape wasn’t already turbulent enough, Disney's recent acquisition of Hulu, including the launch of an app that combines Disney+ and Hulu into a single experience for subscribers of both services, marks a monumental shift in the battle for eyeballs.

Yet, if Disney is to fully reap the benefits of their new acquisition, a well-planned technology strategy is essential. The merger presents an unprecedented opportunity to integrate Hulu’s unique streaming business acumen into Disney’s relatively new ecosystem. Achieving a seamless transition to a unified platform goes beyond enhancing the user experience; it poses technology challenges around consolidating diverse libraries, managing extensive user and content data, and ensuring reliable cross-platform availability.

From Content Expansion to Customer Retention, Technology Drives the Streaming Business

By acquiring Hulu, Disney gains more than a content catalog expansion; one of the strategic wins for the mouse house in this acquisition is Hulu’s proven experience in managing customer acquisition, retention, and churn, alongside the technology required for such growth.

Unsurprisingly, Disney+ experienced rapid subscriber growth immediately after its launch. With a highly desirable catalog, and a globally known brand, getting Disney's die-hard fans to subscribe was child’s play. However, once their subscriber base matured, the company needed to attract new audiences. Enter the streaming prowess of Hulu.

With a vast content offering, Hulu not only captivates users but also provides them with an intuitive experience. Would Disney have managed to propel their subscription business alone? Most likely, but with Hulu onboard, they have accelerated their ability to reach, and keep, a more diverse set of viewers.

Hulu also brings deep technology expertise that will enhance Bob Iger’s digital initiatives. Through targeted marketing campaigns, advanced data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Hulu delivers personalized recommendations proven to attract and captivate a diverse and valuable audience.

However, as Disney’s management knows too well, running a streaming service can be costly, and maintaining two separate, legacy media supply chains, each with their silos, content, metadata, and workflows is highly inefficient. For Disney to successfully integrate Hulu into its operations, they must make the right technology choices, and they must do it early on.

The Need for a Consolidated Media Supply Chain

As we have seen in previous streaming mergers and acquisitions, one of the hardest parts of running the new business is to consolidate their technology. Far too often, newly merged organizations overlook the need to build a streamlined infrastructure, operating as separate businesses, which not only runs considerable costs, but also results in a fragmented and disappointing customer experience. This should be a focus area for Disney when bringing Hulu into the fold: removing multiple legacy supply chains and leveraging the cloud for operational agility and cost reduction. Taking advantage of emerging technologies, such as AI, can address localization and library management inefficiencies, removing duplicated content and indexing large catalogs. By establishing a unified media supply chain, Disney can gather and analyze crucial data from both Hulu and Disney+, enabling informed decision-making and driving business expansion.

 A Game-Changer for the Streaming Industry

The Disney-Hulu merger is likely to have a significant impact on the streaming industry as a whole, especially if Iger's company was to combine its two strategic areas of focus: streaming and theme parks. We see a major opportunity for Disney to increase viewer loyalty and engagement offering streaming deals to theme park goers, and the other way round. With the right technology in place for data collection and personalization, the entertainment giant could deliver an irresistible customer experience.

Alas, as of today, Disney seems to be missing out in an area where some of its competitors, such as Netflix, are already profiting.

To enable this, and additional business opportunities, Disney must first turn their attention to implementing an integrated, cloud-based media supply chain. Eliminating existing silos, streamlining duplicate workflows, improving flexibility and cutting costs will be key for the Hulu-Disney+ marriage (and any other M&E/streaming marriages, for that matter) to flourish.

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