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Disney's cryptic 'The Streamer' hype is a new streaming-bundle marketing scheme

A mysterious livestreamed event Tuesday is expected to unveil a new marketing campaign for the company's discounted bundle of subscriptions to Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Disney's cryptic hype around an event and an account identified as "The Streamer" predictably stoked the company's rabid fanbases into fits of speculation -- but this mystery is all marketing, literally. 

Disney Plus' Twitter account posted an inscrutable eyes-emoji-only tweet Monday afternoon directing followers to a new account called TheStreamer, which was virtually empty except for a little blue verified checkmark -- it had no posts, follows or profile pictures. Since then, this account has added some vague imagery of a waterway (get it?) and teased a livestreamed virtual event Tuesday at 3 p.m. PT, using the hashtag #DisneyBundle. Disney Plus' Instagram account got into the action, deploying more eyes emojis on its Instagram Story over an animated screenshot of the new Twitter account, and ESPN Plus retweeted The Streamer's only tweet so far, the one teasing the event. 

The hashtag is the biggest clue. 

The account and event are part of a social media plan to unveil a new marketing campaign for the Disney streaming bundle, according to a person familiar with the matter. Disney's bundle combines subscriptions to its three streaming services --  Disney PlusESPN Plus and Hulu -- under one bill, at a discount from what they cost separately. The bundle that includes Hulu with advertising is $14 a month, and a bundle with ad-free Hulu is $20 a month.

But the social media mystery still worked Disney's various fan factions into a lather, with the account racking up more than 10,000 followers. Marvel lovers speculated it may have something to do with Disney Plus' upcoming live-action shows Ms. Marvel or Hawkeye. Stans of a particular romantic coupling on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series hoped it could mean Ricky and Gina are getting together (don't ask me what this means...). And lovers of Disney films wondered if all the "stream" references were veiled publicity for Jungle Cruise, the company's new movie coming Friday about a riverboat adventure. 

Even optimistic cord-cutters wondered if The Streamer might reveal Disney Plus would be adding Hulu and ESPN Plus tabs within the DIsney Plus app itself. 

Nope, it's all buildup to a new advertising push. 

Peppered throughout the guesswork, though, some international followers worried that the bundle references meant the big reveal would be moot for any Disney fans outside the US, since Hulu and ESPN Plus -- and by extension, the bundle -- are available only domestically.

So congratulations to Disney faithful around the world for coming closest. You won, and all you get is this lousy livestream. 

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