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Comcast likely to sell stake in Hulu next year, CEO says

The deal could be valued as high as $27.5 billion, with Disney acquiring full control of the streamer.

The deal could be valued as high as $27.5 billion, with Disney acquiring full control of the streamer.

The home screen of Disney's general entertainment streaming service Hulu.
The home screen of Disney’s general entertainment streaming service Hulu. (Graphic by The Desk)

Comcast is “more likely than not” to sell its 30 percent stake in general entertainment streamer Hulu to the Walt Disney Company next year, the company’s chief executive said this week.

Speaking at an investor conference on Tuesday, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the deal will likely go through early next year, when a deadline for Disney to acquire the rest of Hulu from Comcast is set.

“The vast majority case is that we’ll put, and they’ll call in the beginning of next year,” Roberts said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Disney executives announced plans to integrate the content library of Hulu with that of its family-friendly streamer Disney Plus. The combined app will replace a bundle that allows subscribers to buy versions of Hulu and Disney Plus for a discount; executives say Hulu and Disney Plus will remain separate services that customers can subscribe to independent of the forthcoming “super app.”

On a conference call with investors last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger said discussions with Comcast over Hulu have been proceeding, but declined to offer much in the way of specifics, suggesting things are still up in the air.

“They’ve been cordial, and they’re aimed at being constructive, but I can’t tell you and I can’t really say where they end up — only to say, that there seems to be real value in having general entertainment combined with Disney Plus,” Iger said. “And if, ultimately, Hulu is that solution, we’re bullish about that.”

Like other media companies, Disney has struggled to return a sizable financial investment in streaming with customer growth and profits. Domestic subscribers to Disney Plus fell 1 percent to 46.3 million accounts during its most-recent financial quarter, while Hulu’s subscription video on demand customer base remained relatively unchanged at 43.7 million accounts.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).