NEW YORK (AP) — Disney is taking full control of Hulu from Comcast, as both companies prepare to launch their own streaming services in response to declining audiences for traditional TV.
The companies said Tuesday that Comcast, which owns a third of Hulu, can sell its stake to Disney starting in 2024, for a minimum of $5.8 billion. Until then, Comcast will be a silent investor.
While YouTube became a home for digital video, Netflix built up a streaming library of back seasons of popular TV shows and movies, and Hulu made TV episodes from networks such as ABC, NBC and Fox available online after they aired on TV.
Hulu today still shows network TV episodes and original series for $6 a month. It has a newer, cable-like service with live TV channels for $45 a month.
In the past few years, many other streaming services have emerged, helping more people drop their cable subscriptions. These include ones from AT&T and Google that compete with the traditional cable bundle. Others are more focused, like HBO Now.
Disney’s deal with Comcast isn’t surprising. Disney had already become the majority owner of Hulu when it absorbed Fox’s stake as part of its purchase of Fox’s entertainment businesses.
Having total control of Hulu gives Disney more power to support its own streaming efforts. The company is launching a new kids-focused streaming service called Disney Plus this year for $7 a month and is likely to offer discounted bundles with Hulu and its sports service, ESPN Plus.