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Disney CEO says he'd 'love' to merge Hulu into Disney+ — but there's one major obstacle in the way

Disney CEO says he'd 'love' to merge Hulu into Disney+ — but there's one major obstacle in the way
bob chapek
Chapek.David Livingston/Getty Images
  • Disney CEO Bob Chapek hinted recently that he wants to integrate Hulu into Disney+.

  • But it depends on when Comcast sells its stake in the service, and its terms.

  • Industry observers have long speculated about Hulu's future.

Industry watchers have long speculated that Disney would merge Hulu into Disney+ after it bought Comcast's stake in Hulu. And it seems like that's the plan.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek told investors last week that he'd "love" to get to a point sooner than later where Disney can integrate Hulu into Disney+. All that stands in the way is Comcast, which still owns a 38% stake in Hulu.

"We'd have to have full ownership of Hulu to integrate it into Disney+," Chapek said last Wednesday. "We would love to get to the endpoint earlier, but that obviously takes some level of propensity for the other party to have reasonable terms for us to get there. And if we could get there, I would be more than happy to try to facilitate that."

Disney has operational control of Hulu, and Comcast has agreed to sell its stake in the service by 2024 at its fair market value.

But ahead of that deadline, the two companies have been making their intentions and tactics more publicly known, as The Hollywood Reporter noted.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has said that the company would be "interested" if Hulu was up for sale.

"Hulu is a phenomenal business," Roberts said. "It has wonderful content, and I believe if it was for sale, put up for sale, Comcast would be interested — and so would a lot of other tech and media companies. And you would have a robust auction."

Comcast owns NBCUniversal and its streaming service Peacock, which has been pulling NBC content from Hulu this year after NBCU ended a licensing deal with the streamer.

But Peacock has struggled to stand out in a crowded streaming space. It had 13 million subscribers as of the most recent quarter, showing no growth compared to the previous one.

Hulu had 46.2 million subscribers in the US as of Disney's most recent quarterly update, up from 42.8 million compared to the same time last year. Disney+ had 152 million subscribers globally.

But Disney had scrapped a plan to roll Hulu out internationally by 2021, in favor of its Star brand, which raised questions among industry observers about Hulu's future as a US-only platform.

Now, that future is becoming more clear, and it could be another tab in the Disney+ app.

Read the original article on Business Insider