Effective immediately, Disney owns Hulu. It was first reported just a few weeks ago, that Comcast was considering selling its 30% of the streaming service to the media giant, which, at the time, owned 60% controlling interest following its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. A deal has been struck, and the House of Mouse is paying $5.8 billion over five years to acquire full ownership. The remaining 10% belonged to AT&T (owners of Time Warner), but they sold that percentage back to Hulu, while it was still its own independent company. That 10% would have been split between Disney and Comcast, but it now belongs solely to Disney.
It’s true that Disney has put billions behind the launch of its own streaming service, Disney+, which will become available this fall, but Hulu offers them an additional outlet– one that can offer more adult-skewing material. Disney+ will strictly offer family-friendly programming. A TV series adaptation of the film ‘High Fidelity’, starring Zoe Kravitz, was in development for Disney+, but was (prior to this deal) shifted over to Hulu, because it was deemed not family-friendly enough.
And while Disney+ will offer shows based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including ‘Falcon and Winter Soldier’ and ‘WandaVision’, as well as the animated series ‘What If…?’, Hulu will essentially pick up where Netflix left off, and offer more adult-targeted material based on Marvel properties. Two weeks ago, it was announced that Hulu would be home to new live-action series, ‘Ghost Rider’ and ‘Helstrom’. Those join previously announced animated offerings ‘Howard the Duck’, ‘Hit-Monkey’, ‘M.O.D.O.K.’, and the ‘Tigra & Dazzler Show’. The Disney+ shows originate from Marvel Studios, maker of the blockbuster theatrical hits. The new Hulu shows will have as much to do with the films as the Netflix shows or ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, which is to say nothing at all.
This will also serve as an outlet for the 20th Century Fox output which includes rated-R movies and edgy shows on FX.
As part of this deal, however, Comcast will continue to license its material to Hulu through 2024, but around 2022, certain programming from Universal and NBC will start to disappear from Hulu and presumably shift over to the in-development WarnerMedia streaming service. That includes ‘Friends’, ‘The Office’, and more.
It may be some time before we fully understand or are faced with the ramifications of these events, but stay tuned for updates!