Culture&Arts

Disney strikes deal with Comcast to assume full control of Hulu

Disney strikes deal with Comcast to assume full control of Hulu

Disney's chairman and chief executive Robert A. Iger said in a statement that Hulu's portfolio of original content and its library of serials, movies and live TV offerings means the company "represents the best of television". That's when the put/call deal can effectively make Disney buy Comcast's interest in Hulu, while Disney can require Comcast to sell at fair market value - a minimum of $27.5B.

Comcast's departure from the Hulu board will let Disney prepare unencumbered to expand the scope and reach of Hulu in the domestic and worldwide markets to battle the likes of Netflix, Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc.

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 the entertainment business. These include ones from AT&T and Google that, like Hulu's live-TV service, compete with the traditional cable bundle.

With that said, although the sale won't officially happen for another five years, Disney now has full operational control of Hulu effective immediately. Reportedly, Comcast is preparing an NBC streaming service to launch sometime in 2020 at a price point below $12 per month. But the real kicker comes in 2022, when NBCUniversal has the right to cancel most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu, which means shows like Parks and Recreation could be departing to head to NBCUniversal's own streaming service. But once the entire stake is owned by Disney, that will give the House of Mouse an overall 93% controlling stake in the streaming service. NBCU is planning to launch a free, ad-supported streaming service next year. Disney acquired a stake later, and the three media giants argued over the direction of Hulu as Netflix lapped it in size. And last month, AT&T agreed to sell back the 9.5% share it owned via its unit WarnerMedia.

More news: Constance Wu Explains Her Shocking Posts After Fresh Off The Boat's Renewal

The Hulu deal also comes as Disney is embarking on an ambitious streaming initiative.

USA media giant AT&T subsequently sold the Turner stake to Disney and Comcast for US$1.43bn last month, after picking it up as part of its own takeover of Time Warner.

"It's a good hedge in terms of them being able to gauge whether their own service needs its content", Sappington said.


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