Following a deal with Comcast, Disney now controls Hulu. Since purchasing Fox’s stake in Hulu back in 2017, Disney has been working its way toward greater ownership of the streaming service. Now, it’s been given the reins.
Comcast still technically has 21% ownership of Hulu, and will never have less per the agreement, guaranteeing Comcast at least $5.8 billion from the deal. However, for all intents and purposes, Disney is in charge. The company retains full operational control of the service and will have the most say in the future of Hulu.
The deal arranged with Comcast was under a put/call agreement regarding NBCUniversal’s 33% ownership interest in Hulu. This means that in 2024, Comcast has the right to require Disney to purchase all of NBCUniversal’s interest in Hulu. Disney can also require Comcast to sell the interest for fair market value. While the market value won’t be assessed until the time of sale, Disney has guaranteed Comcast a minimum equity value of at least $27.5 billion.
This follows the purchase of AT&T’s 9.5% interest in Hulu last month, which left Disney and Comcast as Hulu’s sole owners. Comcast and Disney have agreed to continue to fund the purchase with their current two thirds/one third ownership interests in addition to moving forward with the new deal immediately.
Along with the put/call agreement, Comcast agreed to extend NBCUniversal’s Hulu license until late 2024. Comcast will continue to distribute Hulu on its Xfinity X1 platform as well.
With streaming service Disney+ still in development, this deal gives Disney two streaming services to offer customers. Disney+ is expected to launch in November 2019 and will focus on being an exclusive streaming service for content from Walt Disney Studios and its subsidiaries, including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, to name a few. How Disney will work with the two streaming services moving forward remains to be seen, though there are rumors of bundling with other services.