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Disney expects to roll out Hulu internationally 'probably' next year

But it's prioritizing Disney Plus global rollout over Hulu's.

Hulu '19 Presentation

Hulu makes a presentation onstage to advertisers at a May event. 

Lars Niki

Disney expects to start expanding its streaming service Hulu internationally in 2021, after Hulu has operated in the US almost exclusively for more than a decade, Disney CEO Bob Iger said Tuesday, noting that the company is prioritizing its global launch of Disney Plus before turning attention to widening Hulu. 

Hulu's expansion beyond the US has been closely watched for years. The service briefly operated in Japan early in its life, but for most of its life, Hulu has been a US-only service. Disney Plus, meanwhile, launched in November in the US, Canada and the Netherlands. It rolled out to Australia and New Zealand two weeks later, and its next launches will be in Western Europe and India in late March. 

"We feel that we need to concentrate on those [international Disney Plus] launches -- and the marketing and the creation of product for those -- and then come in with Hulu, right after or soon after that," Iger said Tuesday during a conference call to discuss the company's quarterly earnings. 

Hulu is a key spoke in Disney's new streaming strategy, which centers on Disney Plus as the main hub for people to stream almost everything that Disney puts out. While Disney Plus is designed to be the family-friendly home for DIsney's output, Disney is aiming for Hulu to complement it the go-to for edgier, adult-oriented shows and movies from the company and others. Disney quickly consolidated control of Hulu last year as it prepared to launch Disney Plus -- as recently as March, Hulu was a joint venture of four media heavyweights until Disney took over full control. 

Tuesday, Disney also noted that Hulu had 30.4 million members as of Dec. 28. That's up from 28.5 million in November, right before the launch of Disney Plus. When Disney Plus launched, the company began bundling its three streaming services -- Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus -- for $13 a month, a $5 discount.

Disney Plus has 28.6 million members as of Monday, the company said. 

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