While AT&T exited the Hulu joint venture with a $1.43 billion buyout, don’t look for Comcast-NBCUniversal to quickly follow its rival out the door.
Comcast, said MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson, will seek to remain aa “pebble in the shoe” of majority shareholder Disney, thwarting the latter's effort to bundle streaming services.
Speaking on CNBC’s Squakbox, Nathanson said, “I think the longterm play [for Disney], if they have their choice is, ‘Let’s get Comcast out of this partnership. Let’s create Hulu for adults, Disney + for kids and families, bundle them together into one service.' But you can’t do that until you get the Comcast guys out of that relationship. And they’re not going anywhere right now. That’s what I think.”
Earlier this week, AT&T announced that it had sold its 9.5% stake in Hulu back to the JV for $1.43 billion. That piece of the streaming company was purchased by the erstwhile Time Warner Inc. in 2016 for $583 million. AT&T acquired Time Warner Inc. last year.
Disney is now the majority share holder of Hulu, adding its 30% stake to the equal portion owned by Fox, which Disney just acquired, to form a 60% position. Comcast owns the other 30% through its NBCUniversal unit.
Disney and Comcast will negotiate in the coming weeks to determine how AT&T’s share will be divided. up.
By some estimates, Hulu is losing its owners up to $1 billion each year.