Disney takes control of Hulu to challenge Netflix, Amazon

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Comcast also agreed to extend the Hulu license of NBC Universal content and the Hulu Live carriage agreement for NBC Universal channels through 2024.

With that said, although the sale won't officially happen for another five years, Disney now has full operational control of Hulu effective immediately. NBC content also will be available on Hulu Live at a higher rate, and NBCUniversal has the option of cutting off most of its content license agreements with Hulu in 2022. NBCUniversal, CNBC's parent company, will be able to stream the same content on its streaming service which is expected to launch next year. The entertainment giant expects Hulu to have as many as 60 million subscribers by fiscal 2024, up from 25 million past year, and is counting on it to complement the new Disney+ streaming service launching in November.

Meanwhile, big media companies that own TV networks are looking to launch still more streaming services as a way to make up for revenue lost from fewer cable subscriptions. Disney has forecast that Hulu will turn a profit around then.

The Hulu service has yet to launch in Canada in any officially sanctioned capacity, but Disney says it plans to launch in Canada soon. In April, AT&T/Warner Media reached a deal to sell its 10% stake in Hulu back to the streaming company. Landgraf said he used to wish FX was its own stand-alone premium service.

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What that means for Hulu's library, which has quietly become one of the better ones on the internet - with a stronger mix of recent films and catalogue titles than the more popular Netflix - remains to be seen. In a year, its streaming service can also start offering video that's now exclusive on Hulu, sharing the shows with Hulu for the time being. Just a month ago, Hulu was valued at $15 billion when it bought out AT&T Inc.'s 9.5% stake.

Hulu, which competes with Netflix and Amazon.com's Prime Video, has more than 26.8 million paid subscribers.

"As Disney continues to grow their subscriber base, retaining Comcast/NBC Universal content is important", Miller said. If things change between now and when a sale may begin, the agreement states that Comcast's stake will never fall below 21% with a minimum valuation of $5.8 billion.

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