This time around, it may end up fully owning video streaming platform Hulu - and with a new agreement signed today with Comcast, it may be able to do so as early as 2024 at a cost of at least $27.5 billion.
In exchange, Disney gets full control of Hulu immediately, and Comcast will keep NBCU content and channels on Hulu for another five years, though it sounds like Comcast has the option to pull content from Hulu in 2022.
Now, nothing is changing for NBCUniversal content (which is owned by Comcast) right away. Comcast will initially retain its interest but the agreement states that in 2024 can trigger a Disney buyout of the stake for a minimum of US$5.8bn. Disney's $71.3 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox combined their stakes, and gave Disney a majority hold over Hulu. It's also working on two new live-action Marvel series, "Ghost Rider" and "Helstrom".
Comcast's departure from the Hulu board will let Disney prepare unencumbered to expand the scope and reach of Hulu in the domestic and global markets to battle the likes of Netflix, Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc. Earlier this month, the streaming service showed off a slate of upcoming programs, including "The Dropout", a limited series about rise and fall of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes. However, NBCUniversal can terminate most of its content license agreements after that three-year period.
Meanwhile, big media companies that own TV networks are looking to launch still more streaming services as a way to make up for revenue lost from fewer cable subscriptions.
"The move enables an worldwide launch for the service".
The Hulu deal also comes as Disney is embarking on an ambitious streaming initiative. Disney agreed to limit future equity infusions in Hulu to $1.5 billion a year and said any needs beyond that would be funded by debt.