This month, Disney made it known the company intends to buy out Comcast’s remaining 33 percent shares of Hulu. Both companies are in agreement for Disney to take full ownership of Hulu however, the negotiations are getting a tad heated as the two companies disagree on some key points, holding up finalizing any type of deal.
Disney wants to buy Hulu to create one app encompassing all Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ content by the end of this year. It currently offers the three platforms as a bundle package.
What’s the problem? The companies can’t come to an agreement on how much Hulu was worth. Looking back at previous yearly reports, NBCUniversal estimates Hulu was valued at over $70 billion in 2021 while Disney’s “ valuation has been tens of billions of dollars lower.”
Now Disney & Comcast are going to an Arbitrator as Comcast has stopped giving Hulu the money it owes to the service according to the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger said he’s had some time to take an in-depth look at the details of the sale. “It’s clear that a combination of the content that is on Disney+ with general entertainment is very positive.”
Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts has said the deal is “more likely than not”, as soon as the companies decide how much Hulu is worth and how much Comcast should be compensated for its remaining stakes. Currently, Comcast’s share of Hulu is priced at around $9.2 billion. Combined with Disney’s stakes, Hulu is priced at “a guaranteed minimum equity value of $27.5 billion.
Comcast has already stopped funding Hulu as the deal is most certainly going to go through when the companies come to an agreement on pricing and other terms. Disney has taken up the financial slack Hulu experienced since, further complicating the sale.
Due to the terms of the joint ownership contract for Hulu, Comcast could force Disney to buy out its remaining stakes early next year. The companies will each reassess Hulu’s valuation then and if they can’t come to an agreement an outside perspective will be provided by a yet-named third party.