The Walt Disney Company is taking complete operational control of the streaming service Hulu, effective immediately. Disney, which is Hulu's majority shareholder, has entered into an agreement with Comcast to make it Hulu's controlling shareholder. The deal also gives Comcast the opportunity to require Disney to buy NBCUniversal's interest in Hulu as early as 2024. At the same time, Disney has the possibility to require NBCUniversal to sell its 33 percent interest.
Disney, which already owned two-thirds of Hulu before this, has guaranteed a minimum sale price of $27.5 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Through the agreement, Comcast can still remain an owner until 2024, while Disney will be taking control of Hulu's future. Comcast has also agreed to extend the license for NBCUniversal content on Hulu for another five years so that both the Hulu on-demand services and Hulu Live will keep NBCUniversal content for a while, despite Disney's takeover.
"Hulu represents the best of television with its incredible array of award-winning original content, rich library of popular series and movies, and live TV offerings," Disney CEO Bob Iger stated. "We are now able to completely integrate Hulu into our direct-to-consumer business and leverage the full power of the Walt Disney Company’s brands and creative engines to make the service even more compelling and a greater value for consumers."
Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh and NBCU CEO Steve Burke also called the deal "good for both parties" and "a perfect deal" respectively.
NBCUniversal has also had talks about launching a streaming service of its own. "We believe strongly in the direct-to-consumer space and our content is a key driver of that ecosystem," Burke continued in his statement. "The extension of the content-licensing agreement will generate significant cash flow for us, while giving us maximum flexibility to program and distribute to our own direct-to-consumer platform, as we build that business."
This isn't the only major acquisition Disney has recently made, as the deal to merge 21st Century Fox into Disney was finalized in March. Disney also has its own streaming platform, Disney+, in the works, which will include the studio's entire original movie library, television series, as well as content created specifically for the streaming service. Meanwhile, the content available on Hulu will probably see some changes in the next five years.
Hulu, LCC was originally founded in 2007 between News Corp. and NBCUniversal and has focused on streaming television series from its owners' respective networks. Disney+ will be launching in November.