Comcast and Disney shouldn’t wait until 2024 to move the former’s 33% stake in Hulu to the latter, LightShed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield said.
“The Hulu joint venture appears to have outlived its usefulness, with Comcast and Disney both increasingly focused on their own direct-to-consumer platforms,” Greenfield said In a blog post for investors Wednesday.
Disney consolidated most of Hulu’s joint-venture ownership in 2019, when it closed on its $71.3 billion purchase of Fox’s entertainment assets. At the time, it entered into an agreement with Comcast to assume operational control of Hulu. The deal also stipulated that as early as 2024, Disney could purchase Comcast’s 33% stake in Hulu for market value, with the floor price set at $27.5 billion.
As Greenfield noted, Disney is limiting the value growth of Hulu through international expansion, growing the service in foreign markets through its Hotstar brand. But the investor excitement around connected TV advertising is exploding. Hulu could be worth as much as $45 billion right now, according to LightShed’s modeling, meaning Comcast's share could be valued by as much as $15 billion.
“Waiting until 2024 to resolve ownership would appear to create an unwanted/unnecessary financial overhang on Disney given how fast the valuation of streaming assets are growing,” the analyst noted.
Indeed, Hulu's valuation could very well rise much higher in three years, Greenfield surmises, since the JV arrangement “appears to complicate both companies’ strategic plans—slowing Disney’s ability to unify its streaming services and preventing Comcast from having exclusive access to its current programming and library content.”
Perhaps there’s no better example of Greenfield’s claim than the strange dual-platform arrangement announced earlier this week for Modern Family, which will stream on both Peacock and Hulu starting next month.
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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!