Disney pays $8.6 billion to complete Hulu acquisition

Disney, already the majority shareholder of Hulu, will buy a third of the shares of the streaming platform for 8

Disney pays $8.6 billion to complete Hulu acquisition

Disney, already the majority shareholder of Hulu, will buy a third of the shares of the streaming platform for 8.6 billion dollars (8.1 billion euros) from NBC Universal, a subsidiary of the American cable operator Comcast, thus strengthening its position in this ultra-competitive sector. This transaction “will contribute to the achievement of Disney’s streaming goals,” the company said in a statement Wednesday, November 1.

The American entertainment giant will thus become the sole owner of Hulu, which it already markets in subscriptions including its own Disney service and the sports content streaming platform ESPN. The three-platform bundle costs $15 per month in the U.S. with ads, or $25 without ads.

Disney's quarterly results will be released next week. They are eagerly awaited as Disney has lost subscribers three quarters in a row.

The Californian group has promised to get back on track during the summer. Just like Netflix, it plans to tighten the screws in 2024 on the sharing of passwords between users of its services to prevent them from enjoying content for free. This method has allowed the streaming veteran to boost its subscriber count this year; Netflix has more than 247 million worldwide (as of September 30), compared to Disney's 146 million (as of June 30).

More oriented programs for adults

The transaction announced Wednesday values ​​Hulu at $27.5 billion. This agreement stems from Disney's purchase of the main entertainment assets of the 21st Century Fox group, which allowed it to acquire two-thirds of Hulu. Disney took operational control of the streaming platform in 2019, with the possibility of holding 100% of the capital from 2024, under the agreement with Comcast.

Hulu is Disney's strong arm in more adult-oriented programs like The Handmaid's Tale, family content under Disney, launched four years ago.

The two services, like their competitors, suffered a historic strike by writers and actors this summer. The writing of programs resumed this fall, but the actors are still not back on set, resulting in a huge delay in a number of Hollywood productions.

In addition to content and the number of subscribers, Disney is trying to progress in terms of profitability. Its streaming business remains loss-making, but it continued to reduce its operational losses over the April-June period, to $512 million from $1 billion over the same period in 2022.

Disney could pay more for Hulu based on the service's September 30 equity value. The company said the evaluation process is expected to be completed sometime next year.