A new report suggests Disney is considering an investment in Hulu (opens in new tab), the US-only streaming TV and movie service. If the report is correct and the investment materializes, it could allow Disney CEO Bob Iger to follow through on his plan to roll out the streaming service out to the rest of the world.
But, before you cancel your Netflix subscription, a few things need to happen – starting with any proof of the report of Disney buying AT&T’s stake in Hulu being true.
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Right now, AT&T and its subsidiary Warner Media own around 10% of the streaming service, but Variety (opens in new tab) broke the news that it is looking to sell that to the House of Mouse for a potentially large sum of money (around $930 million).
That money would theoretically help pay down AT&T’s reportedly staggering business debt of around $183 billion (£138 billion, AU$258 billion) – and, more importantly, give Disney a sizable 40% stake in Hulu. (Disney already owns 30% of the service.)
On its own, that wouldn’t give Disney enough leverage to control the future of Hulu. But add in the additional 30% ownership share Disney will own after it acquires 21st Century Fox, and Disney could feasibly own 70% of the streaming service.
Disney could own Hulu, so what?
This is where things get interesting. During an investment call held in November (opens in new tab), Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked about its investment in Hulu, particularly what he would do after the sale of 21st Century Fox was approved.
Iger’s response included making larger investments on the content side and a potential global expansion for the streaming service.
“After the deal closes and after we have the 60% ownership, we’ll meet with the Hulu management team and the board, and discuss what the opportunities are in terms of both global growth and investing more in content,” Iger said. “But that’s something that we have to do after the deal closes.”
While it’s hard to predict exactly what Disney will do when it finally owns a majority stake in Hulu - and how that might work in tandem with or against its own streaming service – it seems very likely that a global rollout could be in the works.