It’s the question that’s been on every shareholders mind: What will become of Hulu?
As of Thursday, the answer seemed to be a simple shoulder shrug. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Tech, Media, and Telecom conference Thursday morning, CEO Bob Iger said that The Walt Disney company is still trying to figure out what to do with the popular streaming platform.
Acknowledging the shared ownership with Comcast, Iger said, “What we’re doing right now — because we own two-thirds of Hulu — is we’re really studying the business very, very carefully, all those competitive dynamics with an understanding that we have a good platform in Hulu.”
He noted how the platform consisted of content “undifferentiated” from its primary platform Disney+, and said that could impact the ultimate decision as to whether the streamer is sold off.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company has hired Goldman Sachs to assess its best option regarding the platform, and a sale is not out of the question. Beginning in January 2024, Comcast will have the option to force Disney to buy out its remaining stake. Similarly, Disney will have the power to ask Comcast to sell its remaining stake to them. However, just because Disney can own the entire platform doesn’t mean it’s a good power move.
Iger joked that because of the competitive nature of the streaming industry now, in the long run he doesn’t know how profitable it will be.
“Every one of them is going to be highly profitable in a couple of years, and grow subs by the tens of millions?” he asked. “It can’t possibly happen. There are six or seven, you know, basically well-funded, aggressive streaming businesses out there all seeking the same subscribers, in many cases competing for the same content. Not everybody’s going to win.”
In the end, he lauded Disney’s diverse streaming library, including the content Hulu was able to feature thanks to FX.
“We have very strong original programming, actually highly awarded original programming, some delivered by FX, which is a great not only producer but brand,” he said. “But the environment is very, very tricky right now and before we make any big decisions about our level of investment, our commitment to that business, we want to understand where it could go.”
But what’s keeping all of the content from being merged onto one platform in the states like it is in so many other parts of the world? That’s one question Iger is still trying to work out – and one that we hope to get a definitive answer to in the future. In the meantime, some of us will just have to continue swapping between Disney+ and Hulu. That is, unless you’ve invested in that brand new bundle The Walt Disney Company is offering.