Disney to acquire the remainder of Hulu from Comcast for roughly $8.6 billion
(AP) - Walt Disney Co. said it will acquire a 33% stake in Hulu from Comcast for at least $8.6 billion, a deal that will give Disney full control of the streaming service. Disney has run Hulu since 2019, when Comcast ceded its authority to Disney and effectively became a silent partner.
Disney offered no comment beyond saying the acquisition will “further Disney’s streaming objectives.” The deal price could end up higher once the two companies complete an agreed-upon appraisal of Hulu’s fair market value, a process that may not be completed until next year.
Hulu began in 2007 and quickly evolved into as a service backed by entertainment conglomerates who hoped to stave off the internet with an online platform for their own TV shows. Disney joined in 2009, planning to offer shows from ABC, ESPN and the Disney Channel. A decade later, Disney gained majority control of the business when it acquired 21st Century Fox.
Disney has treated Hulu as one of its own services for years — for instance, when it launched its own streaming service, Disney+, in 2019 and immediately offered a streaming bundle that included Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+.
More recently, amid increasing pressure on streaming services brought on by untrammeled expansion, low prices and widespread password sharing, Disney has promised its own crackdown on non-paying users and raised prices for ad-free versions of Disney+ and Hulu by 20% to 27%. CEO Bob Iger said in August that the increases were designed to steer consumers toward cheaper ad-supported versions of those channels, whose subscription prices did not change.
The advertising market for streaming is “picking up,” Iger said at the time, noting that it’s healthier than traditional TV ads. “We’re obviously trying with our pricing strategy to migrate more subs to the advertising supported tier.”
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.