In 2007, a joint venture between two entertainment and mass media giants plus two telecom juggernauts resulted in one of the major “over-the-top media service” platforms in the US, as well as Japan: Hulu. It has since competed with the likes of Netflix and Amazon over the years in providing streaming media content for viewers.
Disney, one of Hulu’s partial owners with a 30% stake in the company, is poised to become a majority owner once it finalizes its acquisition of certain media assets from 21st Century Fox, including its own 30% stake. As it turns out, that’s not even the half of Disney’s impending consolidation of control over Hulu.
That’s because Disney’s next target is the stake of one of the telecom giants that formed the original Hulu joint venture. AT&T is hailed as the world’s largest telecommunications company, but its stake in Hulu LLC amounts to only 10%.
Variety reports that even while the Disney-Fox deal is ongoing, the House of Mouse has also entered into talks with AT&T about a separate acquisition: the latter’s partial Hulu ownership. Added to their own stake and that of Fox’s, Disney stands to be 70% owner of Hulu before year’s end.
Then again, it was AT&T that first offered up their 10% for any takers starting November 2018. This was to pave the way for its subsidiary WarnerMedia to begin developing its own streaming service. Disney has offered nearly $1 billion to AT&T for that stake.
Currently, the House of Mouse is pursuing a two-pronged streaming blitz by having Hulu and its own Disney+ platform. The latter will carry the lion’s share of the media giant’s family-friendly content, while leaving the more mature-oriented programming to Hulu. The last partial ownership in the Hulu pie, worth 30%, belongs to Comcast; and they’re not planning to sell it off to anyone anytime soon.