Comcast in talks to sell its 30 percent Hulu stake to Disney
Comcast Corp. is in talks to sell its 30 percent stake in Hulu to majority owner Walt Disney Co., CNBC reported.
Disney emerged as 60 percent owner of Hulu in March when it acquired the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox Inc. for $71 billion. The Burbank, California-based entertainment giant increased its stake last week when it agreed to buy out minority investor AT&T Inc. in a deal that valued the service at $15 billion.
Hulu is poised to become a key part of Disney’s emerging direct-to-consumer business, which includes the ESPN+ online sports platform and the new Disney+ streaming service for children and families. Disney is expanding into online video as more consumers drop traditional pay-TV for internet-based competitors like Netflix.
Comcast, based in Philadelphia, is weighing a number of factors, including valuation, future controls on Hulu and how to use the potential proceeds, CNBC said, citing unnamed sources. It’s unclear if a deal will come together, the network said.
Disney shares gained as much as 1.2 percent to $136.73 on the news. The stock is up 24 percent this year, while Comcast has climbed 27 percent.
Comcast has never had a big say in Hulu’s operations. The cable operator was barred from influencing the service under a consent decree with the U.S. government linked to its takeover of NBC Universal in 2011.
In an interview on CNBC Thursday, Comcast Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts said Hulu is “really valuable.”
“On Hulu, the relationship with NBC—it’s very much in everybody’s interest to maintain,” Roberts said. “And we have no new news today on it, other than it’s really valuable. And we’re really glad we own a large piece of it.”