The Walt Disney Company and Comcast Corporation have now confirmed some changes to the control and ownership of Hulu.
The main announcement confirms that Comcast has agreed to sell its stake in Hulu to Disney within the next five years. The sale will be in line with the current valuation at the time the transaction takes place, although Disney has guaranteed a $27.5 billion value regardless of the value at the time.
Essentially, Comcast has agreed to sell its ownership to Disney within the next five years and if the deal has not been done by then, either will be able to force through the deal based on this agreement.
In the meantime the agreement now sees Disney take full operational control of Hulu going forward. This particular change takes effect immediately with Comcast now taking a backseat in the decisions that affect Hulu.
The two companies also announced an extension of the availability of NBCUniversal content on the Hulu platform until 2024. NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast. This effectively means Comcast will now be paid more by Hulu for airing NBC channels and content, and this will not affect NBC's ability to run the same content on its own streaming service – due to launch in mid-2020.
This is fairly significant news in the world of Hulu as Comcast relinquishing control now means Disney is fully in control of the future of Hulu.
Hulu originally started out as joint effort by AT&T, Comcast, Disney, and Fox, although AT&T was the lesser shareholder compared to the other three. However, recent acquisitions have changed the ownership landscape significantly and seen the various degrees of ownership and control shrink down to just one – Disney.
When Disney struct its deal with Fox, it gained Fox's share bringing its total stake in Hulu to 60-percent. This was then followed by a deal made with AT&T which saw AT&T relinquish its 10-percent stake back to Hulu.
This left Comcast as the only other part-owner with its 30-percent stake in Hulu. Following today's news, that will now change in the future. In terms of control, that has already changed.
Disney assuming full control now means the company is able to push Hulu exactly in the direction it wants and this is likely to result in some fairly significant changes for the streaming service.
Disney itself has been on a very aggressive streaming push recently as it looks to cement its position as a leader within the market. This included providing firm details on its upcoming Disney+ streaming service.
Disney+ brings together pretty much all of the high profile content owned by Disney and Fox, and makes it available directly to consumers at just $6.99 per month.
Now with complete control (and effective ownership) of Hulu, Disney also now has a firm footing in the live TV streaming market as well.
This may not only result in a change of direction for Hulu but it also could result in a change in how the services are sold to the public.
For example, there has already been suggestions Hulu could be sold in a bundle along with the new Disney+ and ESPN+. That now seem more likely than ever before considering Disney is now in sole charge of all three streaming services.