Disney, Comcast now Hulu’s only owners as AT&T exits
By TALI ARBEL AP Technology Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T has sold its 9.5% share in Hulu back to the streaming TV company, leaving Disney and Comcast as its owners.
Hulu said Monday that AT&T sold its stake for $1.43 billion, valuing the unprofitable Hulu at $15 billion.
The Walt Disney Co. wound up with a 60% share after its purchase of much of 21st Century Fox, which included Fox’s Hulu stake. NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corp. owns 30%. There is speculation that Comcast will sell too, leaving Disney the sole owner and perhaps making Hulu’s content much more Disney-centric.
Disney may bundle Hulu with its upcoming kids-focused streaming service, Disney Plus, and its sports service, ESPN Plus, executives said last week.
Hulu’s $6-a-month service lets users watch original series and network TV episodes after they air on TV. It has a newer live-TV service that costs $45 a month.
AT&T came by its Hulu stake after buying Time Warner, which invested $583 million in Hulu in 2016. Now the company, known as WarnerMedia, is launching its own streaming service later this year, which will focus on HBO and other shows and movies owned by the company.
NBCUniversal, too, will debut a streaming service in 2020.
The fragmentation of streaming services may mean higher costs for consumers as they hunt down all their favorite shows and movies across different services.
Hulu CEO Randy Freer said in a statement that AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which provides content to Hulu, will remain “a valued partner.”