The news: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told investors that it is “more likely than not” that the company will sell its 33% stake in Hulu to Disney when the streaming service’s ownership deal ends in January 2024.
The statement could signal the end to a years-long stalemate between the two companies over ownership of one of the world’s leading streaming services, positioning Disney to become a streaming giant capable of bundling its portfolio of popular services in a move that would dramatically alter the streaming landscape.
How we got here: It wasn’t long ago that Disney (which owns 67% of Hulu) and Comcast (which holds the remaining 33%) couldn’t find a middle ground on Hulu ownership. When the deal expires in 2024, both parties can force each other’s hand for a sale, but Comcast seemed unwilling to give up its share of such a major streaming service.
What is Hulu worth? Any purchase has a contractual minimum of $9 billion, but the amount is likely to be much, much higher. Disney proposed a buyout in 2019 for $27.5 billion—but now the streaming market is even more competitive, and Comcast is cash-hungry, which means the deal could go even higher.
Our take: Though owning Hulu would propel Disney into a streaming giant capable of upsetting the balance of the industry, it will come at a high cost that could lead to Warner Bros. Discovery-esque layoffs and content write-offs. But to secure a place as a leader of the next generation of entertainment, Disney will be willing to fork over a steep price.