Disney has struck a deal with Comcast that gives it full control of streaming service Hulu. This time around, it may end up fully owning video streaming platform Hulu - and with a new agreement signed today with Comcast, it may be able to do so as early as 2024 at a cost of at least $27.5 billion. Until then, Comcast will be a silent investor.
Disney, Fox and NBCU launched Hulu as a joint venture in the USA more than a decade ago, with Turner later taking a 9.5% stake.
Disney revealed its Disney+ streaming service last month. The service recorded $920 million in losses the year before. Others are more focused, like HBO Now.
Hulu could stand as a more mature streamer compared to Disney's family-friendly Disney+, but none of that will be changing until at least 2024.
With Disney now wielding full operational control over Hulu, it's unclear how the Hulu and Disney+ symbiosis will play out.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a media call Tuesday that the deal gives the company the ability to bundle its streaming services easily, meaning consumers can buy one, two or all three of its platforms. Comcast has previously announced plans for their own free, ad-supported streaming service to launch in 2020. There's also a new one from Apple, with original content. Content from NatGeo will be on both services. In that move, the Defenders series of Marvel shows (Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and the like) were canceled at Netflix, while the streaming destination for the Marvel Cinematic Universe library is moving to Disney+ beginning with Captain Marvel. Most of the most popular shows on Netflix are owned by the big entertainment companies - "Friends", "The Office" - which may well want them for their own services. NBCUniversal, CNBC's parent company, will be able to stream the same content on its streaming service which is expected to launch next year.
"I'm not firmly convinced that everyone going to pull all their content off Netflix and put it behind their walled garden", said Brett Sappington, analyst for research firm Parks Associates. Hulu was at one time a joint venture between several media titans: Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast's NBCUniversal and Time Warner (now WarnerMedia).
"The move enables an worldwide launch for the service".