Comcast is inching closer to selling its stake of Hulu to Disney, after Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said Tuesday that he thinks “it’s more likely than not” that his company will offload the streaming company in 2024.
Roberts made the remarks at MoffettNathanson’s Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York, adding that “we’ll put the call at the beginning of next year,” which is when Comcast will be contractually allowed to sell its portion. He added that sale will ultimately add value to the company’s shareholders.
Comcast owns a 33% stake in Hulu, and Disney owns the remainder. Roberts’ comments aren’t a surprise, because Comcast agreed in 2019 to sell its stake to Disney.
Disney guaranteed at the time that the sale price would value Hulu at a minimum of $27.5 billion, meaning Comcast’s cut will be at least $9 billion.
At its 2007 founding, Hulu was jointly owned by several media companies. including 21st Century Fox, Comcast and CNN’s former parent company Time Warner. But those companies have since focused on their own streaming platforms. Comcast owns Peacock, which in recent months pulled programming from Hulu, including popular Bravo and NBC shows.
Last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger said on the company’s earnings call that it has had “cordial” and “constructive” talks with Comcast (CMCSA).
“How that ultimately unfolds is, to some extent, in the hands of Comcast and in the hands of a – basically, a conversation or a negotiation that we have with them,” Iger remarked. “I don’t want to be in any way predictive in terms of when or how that ends up.”
Hulu’s future is hazy. Beginning this summer, Disney+ will also stream Hulu’s original programming, which is how it operates overseas. By the end of the year, both apps in the United States will be rolled into one.
Disney+ and its other two services, ESPN+ and Hulu, together trimmed losses by $228 million, or 13%, from a year earlier to $659 million. The improvement from the previous quarter was even greater, as it trimmed losses by nearly $400 million from $1.1 billion.