What’s next for Hulu?
The Future. The next chapter of the streaming wars is unfolding. Hulu has made its home at Disney for about three years now, but that may be soon coming to an end. In a few years, Disney will need to decide whether it wants to keep the platform (paying billions for it) or sell Hulu back to Comcast. Depending on what it decides, the streaming platform may be up for grabs in as little as two years.
The Disney dilemma
Disney doesn’t know what to do with Hulu.
- In 2019, Disney struck a deal for a majority stake in Hulu, allowing it to take operational control of the platform from Comcast.
- As a part of the deal, Comcast set a deadline for January 2024, when Disney would need to pay Comcast at least $27.5 billion more for its 33% stake in the platform.
- Disney could pay for the platform, but Disney+ has already become the company’s flagship streaming offering, with 138 million subscribers compared to Hulu’s 41 million. Alternatively, it could sell it back to Comcast.
Jon Miller, who served on Hulu’s board from 2009 to 2021, described the conundrum: “Disney has never declared what its strategy is for Hulu… Wall Street wants to know, ‘How many chips can you afford to have on the board at any given time successfully?’”
As the 2024 deadline approaches, Disney is at a crossroads. Hulu does help strategically in some ways — such as helping support Disney+ subscriptions as a part of the “Disney bundle.” But… is that worth billions?