Comcast Might Hold Onto Hulu? 'We're Happy to Be Along For the Ride,' CFO Says
Mike Cavanagh calls Hulu a 'great business' in one of the media industry's 'hottest sectors'
Having recently engaged in arbitration with Disney to determine the value of joint venture Hulu, it's been widely assumed that Comcast will soon sell its 33% outstanding stake in to Disney.
Also read: Peacock Losses Climb to $520 Million in Third Quarter
But on Thursday, during Comcast's third-quarter earnings call, Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh struck a very different tone, calling the subscription streaming service a "great business" in one of the "hottest sectors" of the media industry.
“So we’re happy to be along for that ride,” said Cavanagh, noting that Comcast is pleased that it didn't sell its share in the JV back in 2019, when Disney purchased Fox, along with its share of Hulu.
“I like the deal we have," Cavanagh added. "It’ll be fine if we stay until the end because I expect the value to keep increasing.”
Cavanagh's comments were in stark contrast to statements made in September by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who seemed to lament the fact that Comcast "inherited" an NBCUniversal that had licensed "the biggest and best, most relevant part of our content" away to Hulu ... seemingly at the expense of Comcast/NBCU's wholly owned streaming venture, Peacock.
"So we’re looking at each successive decision as to how to invest in Peacock versus what I just said previously, continue to invest in other people’s platforms,” Roberts said at September's Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference.
Disney said in August that Hulu had reached 42.8 million subscribers and that the platform had achieved profitability. Celebrity equity analyst Craig Moffett recently predicted that Hulu will reach 65 million subscribers by 2024.
That's the year that Comcast has an option to sell its 33% stake in Hulu to Disney, at a valuation of the streaming service at no lower than $27.5 billion. Growing to 65 million subscribers would render that valuation much higher, of course.
Also read: Hulu Needs a New President, But Who Wants the Job?
There has been turmoil in Hulu's executive ranks, however, highlighted by the recent departure of Hulu chief exec Kelly Campbell, who left several weeks ago to join Peacock.
On Wednesday, Disney announced a restructuring of the Hulu marketing department Campbell built.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!