Disney is in the process of holding a majority stake in Hulu, and the company is now looking to expand this stake by acquiring AT & T's 10% interest in the streaming service.
Disney is in active talks with AT & T to buy its stake in Hulu, according to Variety. The sale would have earned AT & T nearly $ 1 billion and would give Disney a 70% stake in Hulu. Disney already owns 30% of Hulu and is acquiring 21st Century Fox, which holds an additional 30%.
AT & T executives discussed a sale in the past and announced at a conference last November that they were interested in selling their minority stake. WarnerMedia, now owned by AT & T, is preparing to launch its own streaming service.
This is a strong gesture for both companies: AT & T could use the estimated $ 960 million to repay its excessive debt (about $ 183 billion), and Disney is about to have full control over a property in which the company holds an interest. shareholders in October 2018, the company would reduce at least $ 20 billion in debt in 2019 alone. The sale of its minority stake in Hulu is a quick way to start this process.
AT & T is focusing on WarnerMedia's next streaming service, but Disney is targeting two services: Hulu and Disney +. Disney + will be launched later this year and will feature Disney's exclusive movies and TV shows, but it will be launched initially on the domestic market and will still have to meet the needs of its family brand. Acquiring a majority stake in Hulu can help the company move from international streaming service to a more mature audience. This is something CEO Bob Iger has talked about in previous calls with investors.
"After the conclusion of the agreement and the 60% takeover, we will meet Hulu's management team and board of directors and discuss global growth opportunities and additional investments in content" Iger said in November.
Comcast, the other company holding a 30% stake in Hulu, is not likely to sell its stake in the company in the near future. Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, which belongs to Comcast, recently told investors that the company was not interested in selling its 30% stake in the short-term streaming service.