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Disney reveals what it will do with Hulu

Daniel Roberts

When Disney completed its $71.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in March, it also gained Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu, giving Disney the majority stake. In May, Disney bought Comcast’s 30% stake for $5.8 billion, giving Disney full ownership of Hulu.

Onlookers wondered: With the highly-anticipated Disney+ streaming service coming soon—which will have a staggering kitchen-sink of content from Disney (DIS), Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic—what will Hulu be for anymore?

On Disney’s 2019 Q4 earnings call on Thursday, the company answered that question.

Disney will move all FX content to Hulu in March. Hulu will be the exclusive place to stream FX shows, and the content will be branded as FX on Hulu. (FX shut down its streaming app FX+ over the summer.)

New episodes of FX shows will hit Hulu the day after they air on television, and Hulu will have the entire libraries of more than 40 FX shows, including “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “American Horror Story,” “Atlanta,” “Archer,” and “Wilfred.”

Here’s the biggest news: Four new FX original shows, all previously announced, will go exclusively on Hulu, not on linear television: “Devs” from “Ex Machina” director Alex Garland; “Mrs. America” starring Cate Blanchett; “The Old Man” starring Jeff Bridges; and “A Teacher” starring Kate Mara.

Danny DeVito attends the LA Premiere of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" Season 13 at the Regency Bruin Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

“FX is a producer of high-quality, award-winning content and will become a key content driver for Hulu,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said on the earnings call. “This is a great way to expand the FX brand and an important step for Hulu as it adds original content to compete more aggressively with new and legacy DTC platforms. The FX presence on Hulu, combined with original production from our ABC and Fox Television studios, and our Fox Movie studios including Searchlight, will greatly enhance Hulu's consumer proposition.”

Indeed, this is a clever move by Disney. It keeps Hulu as a must-have for any fans of those FX shows; it also brands Hulu as Disney’s home for more grown-up content, separate from kid-friendly Disney+. A show like “Always Sunny” was never going to quite fit on Disney+. But on Hulu, which already has the super-dark dystopia “The Handmaid’s Tale” and adult comedies like “Casual” and “PEN15,” FX shows fit right in.

Bringing the FX shows to Hulu also helps make Disney’s forthcoming bundle option more attractive: $12.99 per month for Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu with ads.

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer and show host at Yahoo Finance and closely covers streaming. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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