In response to Disney’s recent announcement that it is purchasing 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, many outlets are now questioning the future of streaming service Hulu.
At present, Hulu is a joint venture between several media outlets, each with an equal share in the company. The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox and Comcast each have a 30 percent stake in Hulu, LLC. For its part, Time Warner owns 10 percent of the company.
However, with the announced purchase of 21st Century Fox, Disney is set to become the majority stakeholder in the company. With a 60 percent share, Disney will be able to call the shots, and many news outlets are starting to question just what that might mean for Hulu.
Conversion to Disney SVOD?
In its article covering the issue, Recode points out something many may be wondering: the possibility that Disney could transform Hulu in its own image. “Disney’s streaming ambitions won’t get underway until 2019, and when it does it will be starting from zero,” writes Edmund Lee. “By that point, Hulu will easily have more than 12 million subscribers, making it an obvious place to piggyback Disney’s new streaming business. Or, more simply, it could convert Hulu into Disney’s streaming service.”
Such a move would likely make sense for Disney. Given the company’s plans to launch its own streaming service, utilizing the Hulu infrastructure already in place certainly makes sense. Instead of investing large sums of money into developing its own platform, Hulu could be more easily and more cheaply washed over with Disney’s logos and content libraries.
Variety’s Todd Spangler, however, questions the possibility of that happening, at least immediately. Spangler notes that the Joint Venture agreement signed by all parties means Disney “won’t be able to make any major structural changes to Hulu without the agreement of Comcast/NBCU.”
Whether Disney is able to exert complete control over the company remains to be seen. Undoubtedly, the buyout will cause a closely-watched ripple effect across the entire on-demand video services industry.