Disney strikes deal with Comcast, takes full control of Hulu

CREDIT Courtesy of Hulu

After completing its acquisition of 20th Century Fox earlier this year, the Mouse House has now assumed full operational control of the streaming service Hulu, effective immediately. Until then, Comcast will be a silent investor. For now, NBCUniversal's content, including live shows, will still be hosted on Hulu and Hulu Live TV. Last month, Disney detailed its plans for Disney Plus, which is meant to be Disney's family-friend companion service to its offering of Hulu as the home for more adult-oriented fare. The service recorded $920 million in losses the year before. It's also working on two new live-action Marvel series, "Ghost Rider" and "Helstrom". Others are more focused, like HBO Now.

Disney hasn't even launched its streaming service, Disney+, yet, but it already has a second streaming site.

Disney's deal with Comcast isn't surprising. But the key part is that Disney fully controls the site right now. This means that while Disney is getting full control of Hulu today, that big things can still happen in the future.

Comcast's NBCUniversal, meanwhile, will debut a streaming service in 2020.

An aftereffect of all these new services may well be the fragmentation of content across services. You may have to pay for more streaming services to keep watching the same stuff. AT&T is working on its own service.

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"I'm not firmly convinced that everyone going to pull all their content off Netflix and put it behind their walled garden", said Brett Sappington, analyst for research firm Parks Associates.

NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast, and now holds a 33-percent ownership interest in Hulu.

The deal is structured to further NBC's streaming ambitions as well.

"The move enables an worldwide launch for the service".

He added that the deal gives Comcast flexibility to figure out the best way to make money off the video it owns. Comcast has also agreed to fund Hulu's recent buyout of AT&T's 9.5% interest in the company. Comcast, therefore, is guaranteed at least $5.8 billion for the sale. Disney and Comcast have entered something called a "put/call" agreement, through which Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal's interest in Hulu while Disney can require NBCUniversal to sell that interest to Disney.

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