Disney Picks up Full Control of Hulu

The juggernaut that is Disney is launching its own streaming service soon. Disney+ will launch later this year and cost only $7 per month. But while Disney+ will host content from brands like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and more, it won’t be the right platform for all content. Which is where Hulu comes in.

Disney recently picked up a majority position for Hulu not too long ago. This meant it could launch even more content on the platform, including animated series based on Marvel characters like Howard the Duck, MODOK, and Ghost Rider, among others. But now Disney has negotiated a deal with Comcast, which sees Disney pick up full control of Hulu beginning today.

This is part of what’s known as a “put/call” deal. This means that while Disney is getting full control of Hulu today, that big things can still happen in the future. Specifically, this deal makes it possible for either Disney or Comcast to force a sale of Comcast’s remaining shares in Hulu in late 2024. Currently, Comcast still holds a 33 percent stake in Hulu.

Now, nothing is changing for NBCUniversal content (which is owned by Comcast) right away. For now, NBCUniversal’s content, including live shows, will still be hosted on Hulu and Hulu Live TV. That will change in late 2024, though, as Comcast will have the option of pulling that content and launching it on its own upcoming streaming service. NBCUniversal’s own streaming service was announced back in January of this year.

One caveat: Starting in one year, Comcast can actually start putting its owned content on the upcoming streaming service, which will reduce the license fee that Hulu has to pay.

What happens in 2024 will be the real kicker for Hulu (and Disney). We already know of several different Disney-owned properties that are coming to Hulu in the near future, and that will likely only continue as Disney looks to expand beyond what it can share on Disney+. Disney sees Hulu as a way to launch more adult-oriented content. Think Netflix’s Marvel series, Daredevil or Jessica Jones. Which is why Howard the Duck won’t be available on Disney+.

But if Comcast pulls all of its NBCUniversal content from Hulu in favor of its own platform in 2024, will Hulu still be a viable option for the millions of subscribers out there? It almost makes sense for Disney to try and keep third-party content on the platform. But of course, the streaming platform wars are in full swing, and we’re all faced with the prospects of having to subscribe to every single broadcaster and publisher under the moon to watch the shows and movies we want.

[via The Verge]

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