Disney’s chief executive officer Bob Chapek said he would like to own Comcast’s 33% stake in Hulu “tomorrow” but acknowledged that the likelihood of an early deal is “decreasing” as 2024 approaches.
“I’d love nothing more than to come up with that solution for an early deal,” Chapek said in an exclusive interview with TBEN’s David Faber on Wednesday. “But it takes two parties to come to something that is acceptable to both parties.”
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Comcast has an existing reciprocal agreement with Disney to sell its minority stake in Hulu as early as January 2024. Activist investor Dan Loeb is urging Disney to accelerate a deal so it can fully integrate Hulu with Disney+, creating a “hard bundle” that seamlessly allows users to watch content from both services in one application.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on Wednesday that he would also want to own Hulu if Disney decided to put the streaming service up for sale.
“Hulu is a phenomenal company. … It has some great content and I think Comcast would be interested if it were up for sale or for sale,” Roberts said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference Wednesday.
Roberts added that Comcast would discuss a sale of its stake before the 2024 TBEN, but it’s up to Disney to start the conversation. “I think it has tremendous value, and you know, I’m sure our shareholders share that belief,” Roberts said.
“There has never been a pure play, great streaming service on the market. So I don’t know if the public markets are the way to judge value.”
But, as TBEN reported earlier this month, Comcast executives expect Disney to stick to its plan to buy out Hulu.
The question then comes to the price. The best way to value Hulu is to find out what it would sell for in a theoretical auction, Roberts said at the conference Wednesday.
Chapek told Faber that this year’s dip in Netflix’s public valuation should factor into the final sale price. In the 2019 agreement that Disney and Comcast signed that guaranteed a sale of the 33% stake by 2024, the companies agreed on a floor price for Hulu of $27.5 billion.
“There’s a bottom price too, right?” said Chapek. “Which, you know, wasn’t even relevant 18 months ago, when there’s still foam in the streaming business, but now that things have calmed down a bit, that floor value looks a lot better.” [relevant].”
Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of TBEN.