Disney continues to try to acquire most of the OTT streaming service Hulu from its minority owners. Variety reported today that Disney was in talks with AT&T to pick up their 10% stake in Hulu. This would give Disney even more control over the streaming service.
Right now Disney owns 30% of Hulu and once the deal with 20th Century Fox closes, they will acquire 30%. Comcast/NBCUniversal owns another 30% and AT&T owns the remaining 10%. It doesn’t sound like NBCU is ready to sell their stake in the company, but AT&T is more willing right now, probably because they’re getting ready to spin up WarnerMedia, a competitor to Disney+ and Hulu.
While the big news seems to be focused on the eventual arrival of Disney+, Disney’s new Direct-to-Consumer OTT Streaming Service, there’s been a lot less attention on Hulu, a service Disney will have controlling interest over once the 21st Century Fox acquisition is complete. Between the two, Hulu has more potential as a Netflix competitor, since Disney+ will be strictly limited to family friendly, on-brand, content, Disney can put non-Disney branded content, as well as content for more mature audiences on Hulu.
Hulu said that it had more than 25 million subscribers in 2018, a growth rate of about 30% year over year. That’s pretty good. Unlike Netflix, Hulu has an ad supported subscription level bringing in an additional $1.5 billion, the best year yet for the company. Alas, the company is still not making a net-profit, losing $920 million in 2017 and $1.5 billion in 2018 after investments in programming and technology.
Looking at these numbers you have to wonder what the plan is for Disney+? Will it be a money maker or loser for the company?
Are you a current subscriber to Hulu? Will you be subscribing to Disney+ when it is releaed?
Read the entire piece at Variety.