Disney, Comcast Move Up Timeline for Hulu Ownership Negotiations

Brit Tuttle

Disney, Comcast Move Up Timeline for Hulu Ownership Negotiations

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has stated the timeline for Hulu’s ownership negotiations will be moved up, according to a report from CNBC.

Disney and Comcast Negotiate Hulu Sale

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Currently, Disney owns a two-thirds majority stake in the streaming service, with Comcast owning the other third.

Comcast and Disney are now scheduled to begin talks for the future of Hulu on September 30; the initial deadline was previously January 2024. These talks will include an appraisal process.

Under the original 2019 agreement between Disney and Comcast, Disney could require Comcast to sell, or Comcast could force Disney to buy their remaining 33 percent stake in Hulu in January 2024, at a guaranteed minimum total equity value of $27.5 billion — though the final price will likely be higher than the initial estimate. Roberts has expressed an eagerness to sort out a solution:

We are excited to get this resolved. And the minimum $27.5 billion that people have bandied about, that was a hypothetical that we picked five years ago because Disney has control of the company. The company is way more valuable today than it was then.

Both Disney and Comcast will each have their own appraiser for the streaming service as part of the negotiation process, and if their valuations are vastly different, a third appraiser could be brought in.

Value for Hulu will be determined by examining the streaming service’s content — much of which is supplied by Disney — as well as the fact that the service is sold in a bundle alongside Disney+ and ESPN+, which lowers the likelihood of “churn,” or when consumers choose to unsubscribe from streaming services.

I think, if you were selling all this, as is, there would be a line of bidders around the block to buy all the content, all the bundling of Hulu. That business, we’ve never seen.

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Roberts previously said the sale is “likely,” and Iger revealed plans to combine Disney+ and Hulu into a new one-app experience back in May of this year. Disney+ is the flagship streaming service for Disney, offering legacy and original programming across its studios, while Hulu is home to more adult-oriented content, such as “American Horror Story” and “Only Murders in the Building.”

The combined Disney+ and Hulu single-app experience is still expected to launch this year.

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