Comcast is expected to sell its Hulu stakes to Disney in early 2024

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Comcast will likely sell its 33% stake in Hulu Disney Beginning of 2024, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on Tuesday.

Comcast and Disney struck a deal in 2019 that gave Disney the option to buy out Comcast’s minority stake in 2024. That deal set Hulu’s minimum valuation at $27.5 billion.

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“It’s very likely that we’ll follow through on what we’ve been saying all along,” Roberts said at the SVB MoffettNathanson investor conference. “The vast majority of cases is that we will call early next year.”

Roberts also suggested that Hulu’s final price will likely be higher than the $27.5 billion valuation originally set in 2019.

Hulu is Disney’s adult-focused streaming service, which it bundles with ESPN+ and Disney+ for only $12.99 per month. Comcast owns a minority stake in Hulu but has no operational control over the company. Hulu ended Disney’s fiscal second quarter with 48.2 million subscribers.

Comcast and Disney have already been in talks about Hulu this year, Disney CEO Bob Iger said last week. Iger told CNBC in February that “everything is on the table” when it comes to Hulu.

“I can say that we have already had some discussions with them,” said Iger. “They were heartfelt and intended to be constructive, but I can’t tell you, and I can’t really tell, where they end – just to say that there seems to be real value in combining general entertainment with.” Disney+. And ultimately, if Hulu is that solution, then we are—we’re optimistic about that.”

Roberts’ position on Hulu prompted Iger to buy Comcast’s stake, people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named, said.

“Everything was on the table,” Iger said during Disney’s earnings call last week. “But I’ve now had another three months to study this really carefully and figure out how best to grow this business. And it’s clear that combining the content on Disney+ with general entertainment is very positive.” “is a very powerful combination from a subscriber perspective, from a subscriber acquisition perspective, from a subscriber retention perspective, and also from an advertiser perspective.”

When Bob Chapek was Disney’s CEO last year, Comcast executives assumed Disney would buy out its 33% stake in Hulu. But when Iger came back, he emphasized cost-cutting and first questioned the value of general entertainment content, which he says is “undifferentiated.”

Iger backed down last week, saying “that was a little harsh,” but also acknowledging that discussions with Comcast had taken place.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which also owns CNBC.

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