Disney may soon own the streaming service Hulu outright, after news broke that the company is in talks with Comcast to buy Comcast’s 30% stake. CNBC cites sources who are familiar with the situation saying the two companies are holding talks in an effort to work out a deal for the stake.
Comcast and Disney are the last remaining owners of Hulu following Hulu’s purchase last week of Time-Warner owner AT&T’s 9.5% stake in the company, CNBC reports. That deal valued Hulu at $15 billion.
Unless Disney consolidates the company, the former AT&T stake will be divided between Disney and Comcast.
“Comcast is now weighing the pros and cons of doing a deal now rather than later,” CNBC reports, citing its sources “who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.” CNBC adds: “It’s still unclear if a deal will transpire.”
The report quotes Comcast CEO Brian Roberts saying Thursday in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “On Hulu, the relationship with NBC, it’s very much in everybody’s interest to maintain. And we have no new news today on it, other than it’s really valuable. And we’re really glad we own a large piece of it.”
CNBC notes that Comcast was barred from having a say in Hulu’s direction until 2018 as part of a consent decree Comcast agreed to when it acquired NBCUniversal in 2011.
“Seven years later, Comcast’s ownership in Hulu switched from passive to active, when the consent decree expired in 2018. That gave Roberts and NBC CEO Steve Burke some say in the company’s future,” CNBC reports. “But just as Comcast came off the sidelines, 21st Century Fox agreed to sell its 30% stake in Hulu to Disney. That deal, which closed last month, effectively silenced Comcast once again. Instead of being an equal owner with Fox and Disney, Comcast now owns a minority stake to Disney’s 60%.”