Disney has assumed full operational control of Hulu.
Per Variety, Comcast has agreed to sell its stake in the streaming service but will continue to license its NBCUniversal content through 2024. They do, however, have the right to begin withdrawing previously exclusive programming as early as next year and by 2022 will have the right to cancel the majority of their content-licensing agreements with Hulu. Additionally, Disney has agreed that Comcast’s ownership interest in Hulu will never fall below 21% regardless of if they continue funding the joint venture. With a guaranteed valuation of at least $27.5 billion, Disney will pay Comcast a minimum of $5.8 billion to buy out the Comcast/NBCU stake.
Disney is set to debut the highly anticipated Disney Plus this November (joining the existing ESPN Plus), but there have been questions as to where they would store their newly acquired 20th Century Fox properties and more adult-aimed content. According to insiders within the company, Hulu is being eyed as a home for premium original content with CEO Bob Iger already promising to begin immediate production on FX programs. Hulu currently has a subscriber base of 26 million, but Disney has laid out an aggressive plan that has them eyeing a 20-40 million jump within the next five years with an international rollout to assist.
Hulu currently streams WWE RAW (condensed 90-minute version) and SmackDown Live the day after they air (USA Network being under NBCU/Comcast ownership), but that will likely be changing in the coming years. The simplest solution suggests that RAW moves to the proposed NBCU service when it arrives while the fate of SmackDown remains up in the air given its impending move to Fox.
Fightful will continue to monitor the situation as the finer details of the sale continue to be worked out.