While Disney may have been getting more attention for the coming Disney+ streaming service, it has been slowly cementing its ownership and control of Hulu, going from a 30% stake to a 66% stake in the last 18 months with the acquisition of Fox, and with AT&T selling back its share of the service. We'd long wondered when Disney might make a play for full ownership, and we don't need to wonder anymore: Disney now has full control of Hulu, with an agreement to buy Comcast's ownership share in 2024.
What you need to know
- Disney has agreed to buy out Comcast for 100% stake in Hulu by 2024 for a fair market valuation (at least $5.8 billion).
- NBCUniversal content will continue to license content to Hulu until 2024, but it could start disappearing in 2022.
- This paves the way for both Hulu's international rollouts and Disney bundling Hulu with ESPN+ and Disney+.
Even in giving up their controlling interest, Comcast's content isn't leaving Hulu anytime soon. Comcast will be able to pull exclusivity from Hulu and start streaming elsewhere sometime next year — when NBC Universal is expected to launch its own ad-supported streaming service — but it will not be able to pull most of its content off of Hulu until at least 2022, with the licensing deal expiring in 2024.
Five years from now will be big for both companies. In 2024, Comcast will be able to pull its content from Hulu — both the on-demand and Live TV offerings — and there is an option for both companies that will force the sale of Comcast's stake in Hulu to Disney — Disney has an option to force Comcast to sell it to them and Comcast has an option to force Disney to buy it from them at fair market value — which this deal also stipulates will be at least $5.8 billion.
With Disney in the driver's seat, it means it can bring Hulu more into the fold with its plans for streaming media. That means more integration, including bundling its Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu subscriptions together for a discounted rate, something Disney CEO Bob Iger mentioned during Investor Day in April. CFO Christine McCarthy also said at Investor Day that Hulu's projected subscriber base is expected to grow from 26.8 million paid subscriptions to 60 million by the end of 2024, with Hulu potentially reaching profitability as soon as 2023.
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