Disney could be close to owning a majority stake in streaming service Hulu if Variety reports on their plan to purchase AT&T’s 10 percent stake turn out to be true.
According to the report, Disney has been working with AT&T on a $1 billion acquisition, which would give Disney a 70% stake in Hulu. The company already owns 30% of the streaming service and its acquisition of 21st Century Fox will give it another 30% share.
AT&T has been open about their desire to sell their stake in Hulu, telling investors at a conference last year that they were interested in offloading the property. WarnerMedia, which is owned by AT&T, is planning to launch its own streaming service in the coming years, so Hulu likely represents a conflict of interest for the telecoms company.
With AT&T currently in more than $180 million debt, a $1 billion cash injection from Disney could help it to ease its cash flow problems. For Disney, a 10% stake would allow the firm to take majority ownership, giving it more say in the content and marketing of the platform, at the same time as Disney plans to launch its own streaming service, Disney Plus.
Disney Plus is expected to launch with exclusive Disney movies, television shows, and new exclusive content based off of the brand’s valuable intellectual properties, like Star Wars and High School Musical, although the service is expected to be aimed at children and families.
Having a majority in Hulu, on the other hand, would allow Disney to appeal to both youth and adult audiences – something CEO Bob Iger has expressed an interest in.
Comcast, which owns a 30% stake in Hulu, is unlikely to offload its piece of the puzzle, although Disney could make a significant offer for shares to achieve 100% ownership. That plan, however, will be heavily dependent on the outcome of the AT&T deal.