Disney to acquire remaining 33% stake of streaming service Hulu

In a widely anticipated move, Disney has announced that it will acquire the remaining stake in the streaming service Hulu.

The company announced on Wednesday that it would acquire the remaining 33% stake from television colossus Comcast. This would grant Disney complete possession of the streaming service and the ability to integrate it into the Disney+ platform.

As profits have declined, Disney has been engaged in competition with other streaming services.

Completing its takeover of Hulu is anticipated to cost some $8.5bn (£7bn), Disney said in a statement. However, it added that the move would further Disney's streaming objectives as the company sought to increase its subscriber base.

In the United States, the entertainment behemoth already bundles Hulu with its Disney+ and ESPN+ services.

Some Hulu content is already accessible via the Disney+ app in the United Kingdom, including The Kardashians and The Bear.

The price tag reflects a guaranteed benchmark value for the streaming service that was established when California-based Disney acquired a majority stake in Hulu and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in a massive deal in 2019.

Under an agreement between Disney and Comcast from that year, both companies had the right to force a sale of Comcast's Hulu stake, and executives have been vocal about their desire to do so.

Brian Roberts, the chief executive officer of Comcast, described Hulu at a conference this year as a "rare kingmaker asset" that was "significantly more valuable" due  to its successful series Only Murders in the Building.

Disney said on Wednesday that it anticipated the deal would be concluded by 1 December although negotiations with Comcast, NBC Universal's parent company, are ongoing.

Disney stated in the announcement that it would pay NBC Universal the difference if the current value of Hulu was determined to be greater than the guaranteed price. 

According to sources, Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, told investors in August that the company was moving toward a single app in the United States that would incorporate content from all of its brands.

Since economies started opening again after being shut down due to a pandemic, there has been a lot of heated competition for audience attention.

Disney announced in August that it continued to see a decline in profitability despite facing a variety of challenges, the most notable of which were a lackluster performance from its film division and a dramatic decline in advertising sales generated by its traditional television business.

The business's sales for the three months ended July 1 increased by approximately 4% year on year, yet the corporation reported a loss of $455 million during that time period. This is in contrast to a profit of $1.4 billion during the same time period in the previous year.

In addition to Disney, other streamers have been considering ways to both collect revenue and put a stop to the practice of distributing passwords.

Strikes in the United States have halted some productions in the film and television business, which has slowed down the turnaround of fresh content that is required to hook consumers.

Recent comments made to the sources by a top Disney creative who has worked on films such as "Frozen" indicate that the actors' strike may halt animation production later this year.