Comcast and Disney are scheduled to formally part ways in the Hulu venture in 2024, under the terms of a deal struck in 2019 after Disney became the majority owner of Hulu through its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Comcast is expected to sell its 33% stake to Disney as early as January of 2024 at a minimum price of $27.5 billion, per the terms of the 2019 deal.
On Thursday, after Comcast released strong third-quarter earnings, executives were pressed for updates on Comcast’s thinking on Hulu, amid speculation that Disney and Comcast would exit the partnership sooner than later. Comcast chief financial officer Mike Cavanagh indicated there was no hurry. He described Hulu as a “great business” that is active in one of the “hottest areas” for media, subscription streaming.
“We’re happy to be along for that ride,” Cavanagh said during the conference call with analysts. “I’m glad we didn’t exit at the time three or so years ago” when the Disney-Fox deal was completed. “I like the deal we have…It’ll be fine if we stay until the end because I expect the value to keep increasing.”
The growth of streaming and Comcast’s position as a broadband provider was the overriding theme of the call, given the strength of the cable giant’s broadband performance during the quarter. NBCUniversal chief executive Jeff Shell was pressed about the status of Peacock. Comcast did not give a formal update on usage numbers for Peacock, but Shell said it had added “a few million more” monthly active users.
“Everything on Peacock is heading in the right direction,” Shell said. He pointed to the success of recent Universal Pictures releases that came out day and date in theaters and as premium offerings on Peacock, “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and “Halloween Kills.”
“It shows you can play in two different markets,” Shell said.
The sunny forecast for Peacock is significant because the streamer is still catching up from pandemic delays to its original content slate.
“We’re really pleased with Peacock. We’re way ahead of where we expected to be at this point,” he said.