It was expected that Disney will soon be able to take full control of Hulu and that’s precisely what has been announced today. Disney has reached a deal with Comcast which will give the former full control of the streaming media service starting today. However, the deal has been structured in a way that Comcast’s stake in Hulu won’t actually be sold to Disney for five years.
This “put/call” deal will allow either Comcast or Disney to force a sale of Comcast’s remaining 33 percent share in Hulu to Disney from January 2024. However, Disney can take full control of Hulu starting today.
Hulu started off as a joint venture between several media titans. 21st Century Fox, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, Time Warner, and Disney all had a stake in the venture with none having majority control. The situation has changed considerably since then. Disney became the majority stakeholder in Hulu following its acquisition of most of Fox’s assets. Time Warner, which is now WarnerMedia and owned by AT&T, agreed to sell its 9.5 percent stake back to Hulu last month.
It was only Comcast’s stake in the service that prevented Disney from taking full control and even that hurdle is now out of the way. As part of this deal, Comcast will sell its stake to Disney for Hulu’s fair market value from 2024. Disney has guaranteed that the sale price at that time will reflect a minimum total equity value of $27.5 billion for Hulu at that time.