Disney now has full control of Hulu

Disney Assumes Full Control of Hulu in Deal With Comcast

According to Deadline, Disney and Comcast struck a "put/call" agreement for the latter's remaining 33 percent stake in Hulu. Under the agreement, as early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal's interest in Hulu and Disney can require NBCUniversal to sell that interest to Disney for its fair market value at that time.

As to the question of why Disney would want more control of Hulu when they already have Disney+ coming this fall, it's simple: With the purchase of Fox and its many shows and films, they now control content that wouldn't fit on Disney+ because it's too graphic or too adult or just too weird. It will also see Comcast offer Hulu on Xfinity X1.

Ending the Hulu-exclusive licensing deal within a year is important because NBCUniversal has its own streaming service launching in 2020.

Meanwhile, big media companies that own TV networks are looking to launch still more streaming services as a way to make up for revenue lost from fewer cable subscriptions.

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On Disney's end, they'll have to pay Comcast for the Hulu content over the next five years. Disney's $71.3 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox combined their stakes, and gave Disney a majority hold over Hulu. Don't expect Hulu to suddenly be stripped for parts by Disney though as the streaming service has value on its own.

Hulu stands to be a key driver in Disney's aggressive streaming push. And last month, AT&T agreed to sell back the 9.5% share it owned via its unit WarnerMedia. In a year, its streaming service can also start offering video that's now exclusive on Hulu, sharing the shows with Hulu for the time being. Netflix now has a market capitalization of $152 billion, 10 times Hulu's most recent valuation. Disney projects that Hulu's paid subscriber base will hit 60 million by 2024.

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.

Comcast will have the option but not the obligation to fund its proportionate share of Hulu's future capital calls and will be diluted if it elects not to fund. Disney has agreed that only $1.5 billion of any year's capital calls can be funded through further equity investments with any capital in excess of that annual amount being funded by non-diluting debt.

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