TROUBLE CITY

Surprising No One, Disney Has Gained Full Control of Hulu

Pop Culture, Real LifeBrandon MarcusComment
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Like a many-tentacled monster, Disney continues to grab hold of anything it can.

The company, which will someday own you and me and everything we love, has assumed full operational control of streaming giant Hulu after Comcast decided to sell its ownership stake in the company. The deal won’t be officially done for another five years but Disney is taking control of the service effectively immediately.

It’s just yet another toy in Disney’s playbox. Of course this follows several years of acquisitions for the Mouse House after they gobbled up LucasFilm, Marvel and most recently Fox. It’s getting to the point that any major box office or television success is somehow tied to Disney. They’ve been going hard and their pocketbooks are thicker than ever because of it.

But this isn’t all great news. People have thrown around the word “monopoly” when talking about Disney and it’s not too much of a stretch. The entertainment industry is quickly being taken over and while we haven’t seen too much of a negative impact because of it, there have been some adverse effects already. Disney shook up Fox’s release schedule because they didn’t see how it fit into their grand scheme and they also allegedly shut down the Marvel shows on Netflix so they wouldn’t take away from their upcoming streaming service, Disney+. Like any major company does, they’re changing things to benefit them and only them. And now they will own two streaming services. Hulu will likely become Disney’s home for more adult content while Disney+ will be the family-friendly option for viewers. Both will be behemoths in the industry though. And both will be making Disney even more powerful.

Actual image from inside Disney board room

Actual image from inside Disney board room

Not to sound like a bleeding heart liberal but there is cause for concern. A lot of concern. Frankly this is a monopoly and, sadly, one that most people are accepting whole-heartedly, they’re even excited about it. When Fox was picked up by Disney, many weren’t questioning the growing power of Disney or the future of many smaller, more adult-aimed Fox features but were instead celebrating the fact that the X-Men will be able to co-star in Marvel movies now. People were thinking of how the Disney theme parks will be bolstered by the purchase, not how the company can now single-handedly control and run the future of show business.

It’s not just Disney (and Fox. And Marvel. And LucasFilm. And Hulu) properties that are affected by Disney’s growing power. How do other companies keep up and compete with such a media giant? It’s damn near impossible. No one — truly, literally no one — can come close to the sheer power of Disney now. But they’ll still try. Other studios will throw everything they have at Disney to make a dent and stay relevant but that likely means smaller movies, movies that don’t own the summer box office and spawn multiple sequels, won’t be getting as much focus. Why spend time and money on something like that when trying to go toe-to-toe with the most powerful company on planet Earth? Again, this is Disney calling the shots and running Hollywood. They don’t own everything (they’re getting close!) but they surely are dictating everything. That’s frightening for fans of diverse entertainment.

The good news is that it seems that maybe Disney is slowing down for a minute. Now that their takeover of Hulu is complete, expect Disney to focus on its empire and build upwards but maybe not outwards for a little while. They have A LOT of property to maintain and a lot of money to make. Meanwhile the viewing public and other studios wait and see where Disney decides to lead us next.