Comcast and Disney have reached an unusual agreement on how to handle the rights to Hulu going forward. Under a “put/call” agreement, Comcast will hold onto its 33.3% stake in the streaming service until at least January 2024. At that point, Comcast can make Disney buy out its stake for “fair market value” (as assessed by independent experts) or $27.5 billion, whichever is greater.
In exchange, Disney gets full control of Hulu immediately, and Comcast will keep NBCU content and channels on Hulu for another five years, though it sounds like Comcast has the option to pull content from Hulu in 2022. Comcast can also bring certain NBC content onto its own streaming service next year, but will receive a lower licensing fee from Hulu if that happens. A Hulu app is heading to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable box platform as part of the agreement as well.
For all the fretting about “fragmentation” among streaming services, the reality is that Comcast still gets plenty of value out of Hulu, and that its NBC-branded streaming service won’t become an overnight success whether it pulls content from Hulu or not. With this agreement, Hulu will remain the best way to watch ABC, NBC, and Fox shows for at least the next few years.