Disney CEO Bob Iger said today that he’s open to selling Hulu — instead of forking over billions of dollars to buy out Comcast’s stake in the streaming platform.
Asked on CNBC about his plans for Hulu as a 2024 deadline to buy it in, or sell it off, approaches, he said: “Everything is on the table right now, so I am not going to speculate whether we are a buyer or a seller of it. But I obviously have suggested that I’m concerned about undifferentiated general entertainment, particularly in the competitive landscape that we are operating in, and we are going to look at it very objectively and expansively.”
Pressed by host David Faber on whether he’d be interested if Comcast CEO Brian Roberts inquired about buying the Disney stake, Iger said, “We will be open minded.”
Faber noted that the going assumption has been that Disney would buy the remaining stake in Hulu. “And I think I am suggesting that that is not necessarily the case,” Iger said.
Disney owns two thirds of Hulu and Comcast holds the remaining third. Under a put/call agreement, Comcast can require Disney to buy its stake, and Disney can require Comcast to sell the stake, starting in January of next year. Hulu’s fair market value will be assessed by independent experts, but Disney has guaranteed a sale price for Comcast that represents a minimum total equity value of $27.5 billion.
Disney at this moment is more focused on cutting than spending. Yesterday, Iger unveiled a major restructuring that includes 7,000 layoffs amid cost reductions of $5.5 billion including a $3 billion hit to non-sports content spend. Like other media companies, it’s struggilng with the return on investment for streaming, as linear television declines.
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