For the first time in Hulu's history, the streaming video service will be run under a single company: Disney agreed to buy Comcast's 33% share of Hulu Tuesday, putting Disney in full control of the popular service. First reported by Variety, under this deal NBC Universal (and its parent company, Comcast) will continue to own a 30% stake (to Disney's 60%) but terms have been reached for a a potential sale of that 30% beginning in January 2024. According to the agreement, Disney can demand NBCUniversal sell the remaining stake to Disney for its fair market value in the future. Disney has guaranteed to pay Comcast a price representing a minimum total equity value of $27.5 billion.
Disney gets full operational control of Hulu immediately.
The move is the latest in a dizzying series of ownership changes for Hulu, after the streaming service started 2019 owned by four companies. In addition to having plenty of more adult-leaning content, Disney has already expressed an interest in selling "bundles" that give users access to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for a discounted rate, so Hulu will live on. "Postponing the closing five years (later) allows Disney to not take on more debt after just closing (its purchase of) Fox, while giving Comcast an option to the upside if/when the Hulu valuation grows during this time".
As part of a put/call agreement, Comcast handed the reins over to Disney. Disney and Comcast have agreed to buy out AT&T's 9.5-percent interest in Hulu too; Disney will pay two-thirds of the cost of that, with Comcast covering the remainder. For one, as early as next year NBCUniversal has the right to pull programming previously licensed exclusively to Hulu and instead make it available to Hulu on a nonexclusive basis for a reduced license fee.
Comcast acquired NBCUniversal back in 2011 with a consent decree that it wouldn't have a say in Hulu's direction.