The future of Hulu unsurprisingly appears to be with The Walt Disney Company. Comcast executives expect that Disney will follow through with its deal to purchase Comcast’s remaining 33% stake in Hulu. While the terms of this sale have not been agreed on, it is expected to happen as early as 2024.
Currently, Disney owns 66% of Hulu. There is an option in the current deal for Disney to purchase the remaining stake as early as January 2024. However, this doesn’t mean things will go exactly as expected. Some analysts believe that it is possible that Comcast will instead try to purchase the streaming service from Disney. This comes after Comcast already made an attempt at this when Disney purchased Fox for $71 billion.
While the attempt to purchase Hulu wasn’t successful, Comcast still continued to believe in the company and its continued investment. This led to the current deal reached by the companies in 2019 where Comcast agrees to sell Disney its stake as early as 2024. Part of the deal guarantees a sale price that values Hulu at least at $27.5 billion.
However, Hulu has been performing quite well since 2019. This has led to some hope at Comcast that Disney may want to sell Hulu rather than pay the balance. This would also allow Disney to focus primarily and monetarily on its streaming service Disney+. If Comcast were able to acquire Hulu, it would most likely become its flagship streaming service. Currently, with 46.2 million subscribers, it has more strength than Peacock’s current 13 million paid subscribers. Peacock, Comcast’s current streaming platform, would more than likely live on as its free-with-ads streaming platform. This may be something that Disney may not want to give to Comcast as it would create a much stronger competitor in the streaming market.
However, Disney may not choose to sell the remaining stake in Hulu as it has a higher profitability per subscriber than Disney+. In fact, the profit per subscriber is nearly triple that of Disney+ at $12.92 per month versus Disney+’s $4.35 per month globally. In the United States and Canada, Hulu’s profit per subscriber by month is over double Disney+’s $6.27 per month.
Disney also announced a new pricing structure for its streaming services that include Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. While Disney+ saw significant price increases, The Disney Bundle which includes Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu saw a much less significant increase. This would imply that Hulu is a part of Disney’s long-term strategy. It also points towards Disney wanting customers to purchase The Disney Bundle over just a single streaming service.
The changes in strategy show Disney (and the rest of the industry) turning from a new subscriber-focused business model to now making the subscriptions profitable. This comes as growth across the entire industry has been slowing recently. As Disney focuses more on the bottom line, the revenue that Hulu brings to the table becomes more important.
With just a year and a half away from when Hulu’s future fate could be decided, except more chatter to happen around what both Disney and Comcast would like to see happen with the streaming service. Disney is also getting some pressure from some investors to purchase Hulu outright as quickly as possible. Disney has not responded to this request at this point. With Hulu’s continued success, it seems hard to imagine a world where Disney would give up Hulu.
What do you think? Do you thnk Disney will stick with its deal with Comcast and purchase the remaining 33% of Hulu in 2024? Do you think Comcast instead will end up with Hulu? Do you think something else will happen? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!