Disney+ has yet to launch and Disney is already looking at taking over another streaming service. Hulu, which Disney already owns a 60 percent stake in since acquiring all of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment parts back in March, is also partly owned by Comcast. Now it seems Comcast might be considering an exit — and Disney is ready to snap up the rest.
As reported by CNBC, Comcast and Disney are currently working on a potential deal for the owner of Marvel/Star Wars/all our childhoods to buy Comcast’s 30 percent stake in The Handmaid’s Tale streamer. Apparently it’s not so much a talk about whether to move forward with the deal, but more a question of when. Comcast’s part of the company is valued at $4.5B, while Hulu recently bought back shares that were owned by AT&T. That deal (for 9.5 percent) split the stake between Disney and Comcast, making a potential deal much easier now that no third parties will be involved (the service was originally owned by several studios, though that number has slowly dipped).
This move may seem strange for Disney, as the entertainment giant is on the cusp of releasing its own proprietary streaming service, but as its Marvel shows have run their course at Netflix and a new slate has been announced at Hulu, it seems Disney has long-term interest in both services. Disney+, the home of the forthcoming WandaVision and The Mandalorian, may be where its first-party and high-priority shows live while Hulu exists as a place for other creators to use Disney-owned properties and more adult-skewing third-party content.
That said, Comcast may hold out. Hulu is only getting better and more valuable, which means their stake is only going to eventually make them more money. They also hold some veto power over Hulu’s corporate direction, even as minority owners. This means that a deal may not happen at all — or it may wait until after Disney+ goes live Nov. 12. However, the writing is on the wall: Disney is looking to push on streaming, and push hard.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns SYFY WIRE.