Disney to take full ownership of Hulu

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Comcast and Disney have reached an unusual agreement on how to handle the rights to Hulu going forward.

The agreement, which ascribes a minimum equity value of Hulu at $27.5 billion, allows either company to trigger a sale or purchase of Comcast's 33% stake to Disney as early as January 2024. NBC content also will be available on Hulu Live at a higher rate, and NBCUniversal has the option of cutting off most of its content license agreements with Hulu in 2022.

Disney, which is due to launch its own streaming service, Disney+, in the U.S. in November, owns 67% of the streamer having been a founding partner in the business more than a decade ago.

Comcast on Tuesday agreed to sell its ownership stake in the streaming video service to Disney.

In a sign of things likely to come, NBCU chairman of advertising and client partnerships Linda Yaccarino said on Monday that "the shows that viewers steam the most are coming home" in relation to NBCUniversal's upcoming streaming service, which means when the licensing deals for shows like Friends and The Office expire with Netflix, NBCUniversal will likely be pulling them and putting them exclusively on their own streaming service.

"Hulu represents the best of television, with its incredible array of award-winning original content, rich library of popular series and movies, and live TV offerings", Disney CEO Bob Iger said about the deal.

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Hulu launched more than a decade ago as the major entertainment companies dealt with the rise of digital media.

After partnering with various media companies on Hulu for years, Disney has slowly been buying up its partners' stake in the streaming service. Netflix now has a market capitalization of $152 billion, 10 times Hulu's most recent valuation. And last month, AT&T agreed to sell back the 9.5% share it owned via its unit WarnerMedia.

Disney has already made clear that Hulu will be a critical part of its streaming strategy.

AT&T came by its Hulu stake after buying Time Warner, which invested $583 million in Hulu in 2016.

"As Disney continues to grow their subscriber base, retaining Comcast/NBC Universal content is important", Miller said. It'll probably stay on Hulu for at least the next few years, but don't be surprised to see those shows start make their way to a Comcast streaming platform.