Disney to Buy Comcast’s Hulu Stake and Take Full Control of Streaming Service
The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Comcast’s one-third stake in Hulu and to take full control of the streaming service. The sale price would be at least $5.8 billion and could climb once an independent party assesses Hulu’s fair market value. The potential payout is based on Hulu’s current $27.5 billion valuation (in April 2019, it was valued at $15.8 billion). Hulu had 28 million subscribers at the end of April, a 12 percent jump since the end of last year. Although it is expected to lose more than $1.5 billion in 2019, Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said he expected the service to reach 40 million subscribers and turn a profit by around 2024. Under the terms of the deal, Comcast, the owner of NBCUniversal, agreed to continue licensing its NBC shows to Hulu through 2024, with an option to pull its content after three years. The provision is potentially crucial to the future of Hulu, which began as a joint venture among broadcast networks and built its audience on shows from NBC, ABC and Fox. Comcast, which invested a total of $2 billion in the venture, will also relinquish its three Hulu board seats immediately. The company’s decision to cede full control of Hulu to Disney comes as NBC prepares to roll out its own streaming service.
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