Disney to assume full operational control of Hulu

Disney to assume full operational control of Hulu
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Comcast on Tuesday announced that it had agreed to sell its ownership stake in Hulu to Disney, making Hulu effectively a Disney product. 

Disney will immediately take over operational control of the streaming service, according to a statement from Comcast, though the sale won't happen for another five years. The move comes as Hulu still lags behind its top rival, Netflix.

The two companies have entered a "put/call" agreement that means Disney will assume control of the company immediately, while Comcast's 33 percent ownership interest in Hulu will be sold to Disney as early as January 2024.

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Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, said his company would immediately begin leveraging its branded content on the platform in an effort to attract more viewers to the service, according to Deadline.

“Hulu represents the best of television, with its incredible array of award-winning original content, rich library of popular series and movies, and live TV offerings,” Iger said in a statement, according to CNN. “We are now able to completely integrate Hulu into our direct-to-consumer business and leverage the full power of The Walt Disney Company’s brands and creative engines to make the service even more compelling and a greater value for consumers.”

Disney previously acquired 33 percent of the company's assets from Fox in March for $71.3 billion, setting the stage for Hulu to join two other streaming services owned by the company, ESPN+ and Disney+, which is set to launch later this year, Deadline reported.

As part of the deal announced Tuesday, NBC Universal's content — which is owned by Comcast — will reportedly remain on the platform until at least 2024. Hulu will also remain on the Xfinity X1 platform until that time.

NBC's CEO Steve Burke called the deal a "perfect outcome" for his company, according to Variety.

“We believe strongly in the direct-to-consumer space and our content is a key driver of that ecosystem,” he said, adding that the company's content-lease deal with Hulu would generate significant cash flow for us, while giving us maximum flexibility to program and distribute to our own direct-to-consumer platform, as we build that business.

"Significantly, this transaction also affirms the value of our stake, provides a path to liquidity and ensures our continued equity participation in Hulu’s success," he said.