Disney is set to buy NBCUniversal’s (NBCU) 33% stake in Hulu for at least $8.61bn, taking full ownership of the US streaming service four years after it took operational control of the business.
Recently focused on the global growth of its Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming operations, Disney said the Hulu deal “will further enhance Disney’s streaming objectives”.
The announcement of the deal and the expected price tag comes after years of speculation following the ‘put/call’ arrangement Disney and NBCU owner Comcast signed in May 2019.
That arrangement gave Comcast the right to require Disney to buy its Hulu stake and Disney the right to require Comcast to sell the stake for fair market value at some point after January 2024. Comcast has now exercised the right it had under the agreement. The $8.61bn that will be paid on December 1 represents NBCU’s percentage of Hulu’s $27.5bn floor value guaranteed in the 2019 agreement. Hulu’s current value will be assessed as of September 30, this year. If it is higher than Hulu’s guaranteed floor value, Disney will pay NBCU a percentage of the difference. Disney said that it expected to complete the appraisal by 2024. Hulu had 48.3m subscribers, while Disney+ had 146.1m. Hulu is available in the US in a bundle that includes Disney+ and ESPN+, since Disney+ launched in 2019 Hulu is a US-based service that was launched in 2008. Disney+, which includes Disney+ Hotstar, has grown to more than 100m subscribers outside of the US and Canada.
Disney bought News Corp’s 21
Century Fox service in 2019 and became 67% owners of the service.