It seems more and more likely that Disney is going to fully own Hulu. Speaking Tuesday at MoffettNathanson’s Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts addressed the company potentially selling its 33% stake in the streamer.
“I think it’s more likely than not,” Roberts said. “I’m pretty certain if and when we sell our Hulu stake, it’ll be for more than what we have, and in fact, that’s contractually certain.”
Disney currently owns 67% of Hulu with with Comcast’s NBCUniversal holding a minority stake. That may change in 2024. Starting in January of next year, Disney can either require Comcast to sell its stake in Hulu, or Comcast can force the sale as dictated by the conditions of both companies’ 2019 agreement. At the time of the initial agreement, Disney guaranteed a minimum total equity value of $27.5 billion for Hulu, which suggested that Comcast’s share would be worth at least $9 billion. As of Oct. 1, 2022, Disney valued Comcast’s stake at $8.7 billion.
Roberts also commented on Disney CEO Bob Iger’s recent comments about Hulu. On a recent earnings call, Iger clarified that the company has “not really been fully determined what will happen” regarding the streaming service but there had already been “some conversations” with Comcast. During that same earnings call, Iger revealed that Disney+ and Hulu would be combined into one app that will be offered at the end of the year.
Roberts said it is “no surprise” that Iger talked about being interested in general entertainment during Disney’s earnings call. He also noted that the “vast majority case” is Disney will call Comcast at the “beginning of next year,” which is when Comcast’s stake will be available to sell.
“We have a very valuable position. I’m not surprised with the comments last week, and I think that, ultimately, that would be good for our shareholders,” Roberts said. “If there was anything different than that outcome, that would be because it’s even better for us, in our judgment. I think that’s a pretty high bar.”
During Disney’s second fiscal quarter of 2023, Hulu added 200,000 subscribers, bringing its total up to 48.2 million. That included 43.7 million SVOD only subscribers and 4.4 million Hulu and Live TV subscribers.