Disney to complete takeover of Hulu with USD 8.6 bn deal

This combination of pictures created on 1 November, 2023 shows Disney+ logo during the Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, California on 9 September, 2022 and the HULU logo inside the convention center during San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, on 23 July, 2023.

The Walt Disney Company on Wednesday announced it will buy Comcast's USD 8.6 billion stake in Hulu, completing its takeover of the streaming service.

The acquisition will "further Disney's streaming objectives," the company said in a press release, and comes as it strives to boost subscriber numbers at its Disney+ streaming service.

The deal values Hulu at USD 27.5 billion in total, according to Disney, which said the transaction will be concluded by 1 December.

The California-based entertainment giant already sells Hulu as part of bundled offerings with its Disney+ and ESPN+ platforms.

An ad-subsidised bundle of the three services is priced at USD 15 monthly in the United States, with an ad-free version costing USD 25 per month.

The company will release its latest quarterly earnings next week, providing a look at how its cable and streaming services are doing in the fiercely competitive market.

Disney in August reported that Disney+ lost more than 10 million subscribers in the recently ended quarter, in large part in the Indian market.

Disney+ finished the second three months of this year with 146.1 million subscribers, compared with just shy of 158 million in the prior quarter, the group said.

Disney rival Netflix last month said subscriber numbers grew nearly 11 per cent to 247 million as it cracked down on password sharing and refined an ad-supported tier.

The leading streaming service increased prices on some of its plans, perhaps creating an opportunity for competitors such as Disney.

Netflix said in an earnings report that its nascent ad-supported offering was gaining traction, and the coming Disney earnings should provide insight into whether the same is true for its ad-supported tier.

Meanwhile, film and television makers see productions halted by an actors strike in the United States, meaning a potential lack of fresh content needed to attract and keep streaming subscribers.

Hulu was founded in 2007 as a joint venture between News Corporation and NBC Universal, with Disney joining soon after as a partner, according to its website.

Disney chief executive Bob Iger said during an earnings call in August that he was confident in the company's long-term trajectory "despite near-term headwinds."