Disney reportedly in talks to take over Hulu

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UPDATE: Disney now owns a majority stake of around 70% in Hulu, with Comcast – which owns the remaining 30% – granting Disney full control over the service in advance of a formal acquisition.

What doesn't Disney own nowadays? With a portfolio of production studios spanning LucasFilm, Pixar, and now 20th Century Fox, the Disney corporation has unparalleled influence over the TV shows and films gracing our screens. And it looks like the US streaming service Hulu could soon be joining the ranks.

Since the acquisition of Fox earlier this year, Disney has owned a 60% stake in Hulu. According to a report by CNBC, Disney is apparently in talks with NBC, with a mind to buying the latter's additional 30% stake in Hulu. 

This would take Disney to a 90% majority share, and give it a huge amount of room to shape the future of the streaming service.

While Disney is on the cusp of launching its own streaming service (Disney Plus) it's unlikely we'd see Hulu's competing offering shut down or hindered to favor Disney's platform. 

Disney Plus will host family friendly content, and Hulu allows the organization to work with more mature or off-brand IP (Archer, 30 Rock, The Handmaid's Tale) than a Disney-fronted service would allow.

What we might see, however, is a joint subscription model, or certain Hulu properties also shown through the Disney Plus portal. Near or full ownership of Hulu gives Disney a lot more say in what they do with Hulu-owned properties and shows. 

With so many TV streaming services competing for our attention, being able to access numerous platforms with ease may well prove the competitive edge Disney needs. 

We reported on a Disney earnings call back in November, where CEO Bob Iger floated the idea of taking Hulu's US service global. Currently the only way to access the service is to live in the US (or use a VPN if you're from the US and want to get access to your subscription), so seeing Disney's might expand the reach of the service would be a boon to global viewers wanting a slice of the pie.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.