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Disney to Buy Comcast’s Hulu Stake and Take Full Control of Streaming Service

Category: Business,Finance

The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Comcast’s one-third stake in Hulu and take full control of the streaming service, the companies said on Tuesday.

The sale price would be at least $9 billion and could climb once an independent party assesses Hulu’s fair market value, the companies said.

Hulu had 28 millions subscribers at the end of April, a 12 percent increase since the end of last year. Although it is expected to lose more than $1.5 billion this year, Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said he expected it to reach 40 million subscribers and turn a profit by around 2024.

“Hulu represents the best of television, with its incredible array of award-winning original content,” Mr. Iger said in a statement about the deal. He added the company planned to integrate the service into its business operations, and that its staff would probably be folded into Disney’s streaming and international division, which is led by Kevin Mayer.

Under the terms of the deal, Comcast agreed to continue licensing its NBC shows to Hulu through 2024. The provision is potentially crucial to the future of Hulu, which began as a joint venture among broadcast networks and built its audience with a lineup of shows from NBC, ABC and Fox.

Disney, which owns ABC, absorbed the bulk of Fox’s content assets after it won a fiercely contested bidding war against Comcast to acquire the majority of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. The continued availability of NBC shows on Hulu came into doubt after that deal.

Hulu started as a free service in 2008 and was entirely supported by advertising. It later began to charge subscription fees while also offering a live television service that replicates the type of bundle of pay TV channels traditionally sold by cable providers.

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