Disney Owning Hulu

When The Walt Disney Company acquired 21st Century Fox, one of the acquisitions included the company’s 30% stake in Hulu. That gave the company a 60% stake in Hulu. Then Hulu bought AT&T’s 9.5% stake in the streaming service and allocated it proportionally to Disney and NBCUniversal, the two remaining stakeholders. That gave Disney 67% ownership of Hulu. But now Disney wants the whole pie to themselves, and they’re currently holding talks to grab NBCUniversal’s 33% stake in the company, which would give them complete ownership over the Netflix competitor.

CNBC has word on the possibility of Disney owning Hulu entirely with talks between the House of Mouse and Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal) discussing the possibility of a sale. However, talks haven’t reached the point of striking a deal just yet as Comcast is still said to be mulling over the pros and cons of making a deal like this so soon after Disney more than double their stake in the streaming service. So for now, this is what Comcast CEO Brian Roberts had to say on the matter:

“On Hulu, the relationship with NBC, it’s very much in everybody’s interest to maintain. And we have no new news today on it, other than it’s really valuable. And we’re really glad we own a large piece of it.”

When Comcast acquired NBCUniversal back in 2011, it came with a consent decree that it wouldn’t have any say in Hulu’s direction. But that agreement expired in 2018, so now Comcast can do whatever the hell they want with their ownership in Hulu, even if that means making Disney even more powerful following any already worrisome purchase of 21st Century Fox.

Hulu still holds value for Comcast because NBC provides about 17% of their content, and even after NBCUniversal launches their own streaming service, they’ll reportedly continue to use Hulu for distribution of their current shows as they air. The streaming service is meant to act as more of a collection of the network’s library of TV shows and movies from previous years as opposed to a way for non-cable subscribers to keep up with their new episodes of current shows.

But at the same time, Comcast is also more than $100 billion in debt right now, with a big chunk of that coming from their $39 billion acquisition of Sky. With Hulu losing $1.5 billion this year and apparently not becoming profitable until somewhere around 2024 (according to Disney), Comcast’s ownership won’t necessarily be doing them any favors. That will ring even more true if Hulu expands internationally, something Disney would like to see happen. But if they sell, the company will end up with around $4.5 billion to help pay off those debts.

At some point, it’s likely that Disney will end up owning all of Hulu. In fact, they’ll probably end up owning our organs before all is said and done. And then they’ll tell us we can’t eat a cheeseburger, for fear of our organs becoming unhealthy. And that’s when we’ll say, “That’s enough.” But it’ll be too late by then. Too late.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: