Walt Disney Co. has announced its plans to acquire a 33% stake in Hulu from Comcast for approximately $8.6 billion. This deal will give Disney full control of the popular streaming service. It should be noted that Disney has been running Hulu since 2019, when Comcast handed over its authority and became a silent partner.
Hulu was established in 2007 as an online platform for TV shows, with backing from various entertainment conglomerates. Disney joined in 2009, intending to offer content from ABC, ESPN, and the Disney Channel. Over the years, Disney gained majority control of Hulu when it acquired 21st Century Fox.
Disney has treated Hulu as one of its own services, even including it in a streaming bundle with Disney+ and ESPN+. In recent times, streaming services have faced challenges due to rapid expansion, low prices, and password sharing. In response, Disney has promised to crack down on non-paying users and increased prices for ad-free versions of Disney+ and Hulu by 20% to 27%. The intention behind these price increases, according to CEO Bob Iger, is to encourage consumers to opt for cheaper ad-supported versions of the channels.
Iger also mentioned that the advertising market for streaming is thriving, surpassing traditional TV ads. Disney hopes to migrate more subscribers to the ad-supported tier through its pricing strategy.
This acquisition aligns with Disney's streaming objectives and further solidifies its dominance in the streaming industry. The deal is expected to have significant implications for the future of Hulu and Disney's overall streaming strategy.