In a move to shore up its defenses in the upcoming “streaming war” against Netflix, Disney has assumed full control of Hulu from Comcast, effective immediately.
Within five years, Comcast will sell its stake in Hulu to Disney for at least $5.8 billion.
Under the deal, Comcast’s NBCUniversal will continue to license content to Hulu through late 2024. However, as soon as next year, NBCU will have the right to pull back programming previously licensed exclusively to Hulu (continuing to make it available to Hulu on a nonexclusive basis for a reduced licensing fee). And by 2022, NBCUniversal will have the right to cancel most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu. NBCU is planning to launch a free, ad-supported streaming service next year.
Comcast/NBCU will retain its 33% ownership interest in Hulu. As early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCU’s interest in Hulu. Comcast agreed to extend the Hulu license of NBCU content and the carriage agreement for Hulu’s live TV service for NBCU channels until late 2024 and also to distribute Hulu on its Xfinity X1 platform.
Disney owns so much now, that CEO Bob Iger has to use Wikipedia to keep track of it all.
“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,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a statement.
At the annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit, Bob Iger said (jokingly?) that he needed Wikipedia to help him keep track of everything Disney now owns.
“In January of 2019, I came back from the holiday vacation having announced that we were buying Fox and realized I better figure out how we’re going to manage this,” Iger says. “I rolled a whiteboard into my conference room outside of my office and stood in front of it.”
“First what I did was list all of the assets of the company, combined entities, and everything I could think of…I had to go to Wikipedia to find out everything we owned [laughs],” he continues. “It’s a long list. I have a good memory but it’s not that good.”
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