The long-term agreement that has Comcast carrying programming from The Walt Disney Co. that was reached in 2012 is expiring Thursday, according to analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research.
“Every indication is that the two are on good terms,” the analysts said in a report Thursday morning. “If they don’t announce by midnight tonight, no matter. A short — or even not so short — extension to buy more time would be inconsequential.”
While there are many issues between the two companies, the one that rises to the top for the analysis is the future of Hulu. Comcast still owns 33% of Hulu and Disney is obligated to buy out Comcast by 2024.
But with Comcast trying to build up Peacock with NBCU programming currently committed to Hulu there are incentives to unwind that stake sooner rather than later for Comcast. (Some have argued that the dispute between NBCU and YouTube could benefit Hulu, rasing its value for Comcast.)
And if Disney does buy out Comcast, the analysts wonder what Comcast would do with the influx of cash.
“To be clear, there is no indication that Disney and Comcast will use this programming renewal as an opportunity to settle the Hulu stake preemptively. Our analysis is therefor occasioned by what is almost certainly wishful thinking,” the analysts caveated.
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