Disney is set to take full control of the Hulu platform from Comcast, paying an estimated minimum of $8.6 billion for the remaining 33% stake. Negotiations over the price are expected to drag on for several months, with the final price to be determined as part of the valuation process and likely to involve up to three investment banks.
Originally launched in 2007 with the backing of 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Disney and Time Warner, Hulu's goal was to create a common streaming platform to counter the growing influence of the Internet. Ultimately, however, Disney gained control of Hulu after acquiring 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets for $71 billion in 2019. Currently, Hulu boasts approximately 48.3 million subscribers in the US, while Disney has 146.1 million subscribers worldwide. However, Hulu's platform expansion has slowed recently. In the second quarter of 2023, subscriber growth was 4.5%, slowing from 8% growth in the previous year.
Like other big media companies, Disney has been struggling with investor concerns about streaming profitability and the decline of traditional television, and the company's stock has fallen from about $197 to $81 in the past two years. Disney sees Hulu as a key element of its strategy to reach a broader audience than just families and children. In September, the company introduced a new package offering Disney+ and Hulu ad-free for $19.99 a month.