Disney is taking control of Hulu.
Following rumors of negotiations, Disney and Comcast have now announced a deal under which Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu, effective immediately. As a result, Comcast has agreed to sell its 33% Hulu equity stake to Disney for at least $5.8 billion within five years.
Under the deal, Comcast’s NBCUniversal will continue to license content to Hulu through late 2024. However, as early as next year, NBCUniversal will also have the right to pull back programming previously licensed exclusively to Hulu (but can continue to make it available to Hulu on a nonexclusive basis).
By 2022, NBCUniversal will have the right to cancel most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu. The deal comes as NBCU is planning to launch a free, ad-supported streaming service next year and network ad boss Linda Yaccarino made it clear at the upfronts this week that the network’s most beloved titles are “coming home” to the new platform.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement about the deal: “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.”
The news comes as future rival Apple has released its redesigned TV app in more than 100 countries, the move seen as a prelude to the launch of its subscription offering Apple TV+ this fall. The app debuts today on Samsung smart TVs, with other smart TV brands as well as Roku and Amazon Fire also in the future plans.