Disney has reached an agreement with Comcast-NBCUniversal to take immediate control of Hulu.
Under the deal, Disney will have the option to force Comcast to sell its 33% stake in the streaming service for no less than $27.5 billion in 2024. The sale price could be higher if independent market analysis finds Comcast’s share is worth more. Comcast can also force Disney’s hand to buy it out at this time.
While Disney will have full control of Hulu, and incur all operational losses, it will also license NBCU content and networks at a higher rate than the current licensing agreement. And it will do so without exclusivity—NBCU will be able to put the same content on its own new streaming platform.
As it existed as a joint venture, Hulu was divided by 30% shares to Fox, Disney, Comcast, with Time Warner Inc. owning the last 10%. Disney assumed Fox's 30% when it purchased Fox's entertainment assets. After closing on Time Warner, AT&T agreed to sell its 10% stake to Disney and Comcast.
“We believe strongly in the direct-to-consumer space and our content is a key driver of that ecosystem,” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said in a statement. “The extension of the Hulu content-licensing agreement will generate significant cash flow for us, while giving us maximum flexibility to program and distribute to our own direct-to-consumer platform, as we build that business. Significantly, this transaction also affirms the value of our stake, provides a path to liquidity and ensures our continued equity participation in Hulu’s success.”
Added Disney CEO Bob Iger, “Hulu represents the best of television, with its incredible array of award-winning original content, rich library of popular series and movies, and live TV offerings. We are now able to completely integrate Hulu into our direct-to-consumer business and leverage the full power of The Walt Disney Company’s brands and creative engines to make the service even more compelling and a greater value for consumers.”