Disney has signed a deal with Comcast to take full control of Hulu. The company had shared control with Fox, AT&T (which acquired a small Hulu stake when it bought Time Warner) and Comcast (which gained its share after purchasing NBC). After it acquired Fox, Disney held the majority of the streaming service. Then AT&T also agreed to sell its smaller share in April. With Hulu under its control, and its Disney+ streaming service debuting in November, Disney can now escalate its competition with Netflix. Bloomberg’s Gerry Smith and Lucas Shaw report:
Hulu will be a key weapon in Disney’s growing online fight with Netflix Inc., and the deal gives the service access to programming from Comcast’s NBCUniversal division for at least three more years. Disney expects Hulu to have as many as 60 million subscribers by fiscal 2024, up from 25 million last year, and is counting on it to complement the new Disney+ streaming service launching in November.
“We are now able to completely integrate Hulu into our direct-to-consumer business,” Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said in a statement.
Investors in both companies seemed pleased. Disney shares rose as much as 2.1%, and Comcast gained as much as 2.3%.
The transaction, leaving Hulu run by just one media company for the first time, marks the end of one of the most complicated ownership sagas in entertainment.
NBC and Fox founded Hulu more than a decade ago as a way for TV viewers to watch last night’s TV online. Disney acquired a stake later, and the three media giants argued over the direction of Hulu as Netflix lapped it in size. Netflix now has a market capitalization of $152 billion, 10 times Hulu’s most recent valuation.
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Jeremy Jones, CFA
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