As the world collectively quarantines due to the outbreak of COVID-19, streaming services have more of an obligation to the public than ever before. As millions around the world continue to shelter in place, streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and HBO are collectively providing entertainment and, in many cases, reprieve from the troubling times of today.
One way to combat all the available choices as a consumer is to invest in a bundle, where multiple streaming services are packaged together and offered for one lump sum monthly payment.
One of the more enticing streaming bundles on the market today is also one of the newest. The Disney+ bundle, which combines Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+, offers a competitive, versatile bundle at an affordable price.
You can sign up for this three-way bundle for $12.99 per month, giving you full access to the entire Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+ libraries. Individually, the prices for each service are:
• Hulu $5.99 per month
• ESPN+ $4.99 per month
• Disney+ $6.99 per month
Essentially, the bundle is a combination of Hulu and Disney+ at full price, with ESPN+ added essentially for free. It’s also one (or even two) less username/password combinations that you’ll need to remember if you sign up.
Is the bundle worth it? From a price standpoint, surely. You get three streaming services for the price of two. But do these streaming options hold their own weight individually? Let’s take a look at the three of them, to get a better look at what’s available.
Comfortably the most established of the three, Hulu has a history of effectively bundling their services. College students have the ability to get free Hulu and Showtime if they sign up for Spotify premium using their college email (Hulu and regular Spotify used to have a bundle, which has since been discontinued).
Hulu’s biggest strength is their unassailable lineup of TV shows — it’s comfortably the strongest and most versatile of any of the major streaming services, and has shows from nearly every network imaginable.
Some of their higher profile shows available for streaming include:
• The Bachelor
• 30 Rock
• Brooklyn Nine-Nine
• The Office (UK)
• Friday Night Lights
• This Is Us
• Rick and Morty
You’ll also be given the option to access HBO original programming (for an extra $14.99 a month), Showtime original programming ($10.99 extra per month), Cinemax original programming ($9.99 additional per month), and Starz original programming ($8.99 extra/month) which plays a role in the theme of having all your eggs in one basket.
Hulu also has some (albeit not nearly as impressive as Netflix or Amazon Prime) original content available for consumers. They also have movies available, although not too many stand out (their current highest profile film is Portrait of a Lady on Fire). Hulu, however, has never been as interested in their movie library as their television library.
Hulu also has a warm and extremely easy to navigate interface, including lots of bright visuals and large images to help draw attention to certain programming. It’s hard to ignore clicking on This is Us when a picture of Jack and Rebecca takes up a fifth of your screen.
Overall, Hulu is a seasoned veteran in the streaming wars, and knows their strengths: TV shows. You’d be hard pressed to find a more dense catalogue. There are some minor drawbacks (offering premium programming such as HBO before introducing the caveat of an additional subscription is a bit of a tease, and a regular Hulu plan does include some mid-program advertising), but overall, it’s hard to go wrong with Hulu as a fan of TV shows.
One of the newer high profile streaming platforms, Disney+ takes advantage of their endless amount of premium intellectual property. You can get virtually every Star Wars and Marvel title, plus all Disney and Pixar original programming. National Geographic is also a nice add on for those who like to sprinkle in a bit of nonfiction.
Never before have two of the pillar franchises in modern history (Star Wars and Marvel) been so readily available. Every Star Wars film except the newest release, The Rise of Skywalker, is available, as are several spin-off expanded universe programs, including the smash success The Mandalorian, which developed a large cult following in just a season.
Every Marvel Cinematic Universe film except two (Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp) are ready to stream, with the other two arriving as soon as their contractual obligation with Netflix expires. Marvel has been the dominant franchise in the last 12 years, and their collected works are hugely appealing to even the most novice fans of the MCU. There are also several miniseries, new and old, dedicated to comic book fans, regardless of age.
Disney’s interface is also quite easy to use. When you log in, you’re immediately prompted with their big 5 categories: Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and Nat Geo. There are also prompts for movies, TV series, and originals, including the aforementioned Mandalorian, along with The World According to Jeff Goldblum.
Disney+ is the perfect nostalgia streaming service — adults can bask in the glory of their childhood, while kids can be introduced to some of the franchises that have driven decades of pop culture. The only drawback is the lack of original content, but it’s still early — it took Netflix quite some time to develop their own original series (and at the start, it was just House of Cards and Orange is the New Black). Disney’s success with their first original series suggests that it won’t be long before they’ll churn out original content under the domain of their existing IP.
This one is tricky to evaluate since sports around the globe are overwhelmingly on hold as the world battles COVID-19. One of ESPN+’s major appeals was the excess of live programming they had, including Italian Serie A, a wide array of collegiate sports, and UFC fighting.
However, there are still lots of attractive features to ESPN+. Their critically acclaimed 30 For 30 series is perfect for a time like the present. With no live sports, what better time is there to dive into some of the preeminent sports stories in history?
You can also view award winning documentary OJ: Made in America, one of the most comprehensive and critically celebrated documentary series of the 2010’s. Other original programming includes Detail, which are essentially tape breakdowns with the games best minds (including Peyton Manning and the late Kobe Bryant), and SC Featured, which has in-depth sports features that you may not have caught on nightly SportsCenter. ESPN+ also has an extensive library of premium written content, including NFL Mock Drafts, NBA Insider chatter, and in-depth fantasy sports breakdowns.
There is also, of course, the big elephant in the room: The Last Dance. One of the most anticipated documentary series ever, documenting the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan’s final season and championship in Chicago) was set to premiere in June. However, ESPN pushed it up to April 19, amidst lots of public pressure spearheaded by none other than LeBron James himself. This documentary will air two new episodes every week for five weeks, and all the episodes will be available to stream on ESPN+.
The interface can be a bit overwhelming, with so many options and dropdown menus, but it’s actually a little easier to navigate these days due to the lack of live sports.
When you consider that ESPN+ is essentially free with this bundle, and that it will eventually return to pumping out countless live sporting events, it’s definitely a worthy entry into the bundle.
So, is the Bundle Worth It?
Sure it is! Can you think of a more versatile bundle out there? Hulu offers more TV shows than humanly possible to watch (even you, Andy Samberg); Disney+ has an unassailable collection of IP, and you can expect their original programming to increase over the coming years as well; and ESPN+ is the best sports streaming service on the market, and is essentially being offered for free.
For an individual, it checks all the boxes. For a family, it perhaps more so checks all the boxes– Disney+ is perfect for kids, Hulu is great for adults, and if there are sports fans in the mix, ESPN+ certainly obliges.
Ultimately, this is a tremendous bundle with tons of great content at an affordable price. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to invest in a streaming bundle.
You can sign up at either of the three websites (Hulu, Disney+, or ESPN+) for $12.99 a month.