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Comcast and Disney struck a deal in 2019 gave Disney a buyout option Comcast’s minority stake in 2024. This deal set a minimum valuation for Hulu at $27.5 billion.
“We’re more likely to go through with what we’ve been saying all along,” Roberts said MoffettNathanson at the SVB investor conference. “In the vast majority of cases, it’s like we give and they hear back early next year.”
Roberts also suggested that the final price for Hulu is likely to be higher than the $27.5 billion initially set in 2019.
Hulu is Disney’s adult-oriented streaming service that combines ESPN+ and Disney+ for only $12.99 per month. Comcast owns a minority stake in Hulu, but has no operating control of the business. Hulu ended Disney’s fiscal second quarter with 48.2 million subscribers.
Comcast and Disney have already been in talks about Hulu this year, Disney CEO Bob Iger said last week. Iger told CNBC in February “everything is on the table” with respect to Hulu.
“I can say we’ve had some conversations with them,” Iger said. “They were cordial and meant to be constructive, but I can’t tell you and I can’t tell you where they ended up — just to say that there seems to be real value in having general entertainment combined with Disney+. And if Hulu ends up being the solution, it’s us — we’re bullish on it.”
Roberts’ position at Hulu pushed Iger back to buy Comcast’s stake, said people familiar with the matter, who declined to be named.
“Everything was on the table,” Iger said during Disney’s conference call last week. “But now I have another three months to really look at it carefully and figure out what’s the best path for us to grow this business. And clearly, the combination of the content that’s on Disney+ with general entertainment is very positive, is a very strong combination from a subscriber perspective, from a subscriber acquisition perspective, from a subscriber retention perspective, and also from an advertiser perspective.”
Comcast executives assumed that Disney would buy its 33% stake in Hulu when Bob Chapek was Disney CEO last year. But when Iger returned, he emphasized cost-cutting and initially questioned the value of general entertainment content, which he said was “undifferentiated.”
Iger backtracked last week, saying “it was a little rough,” while acknowledging that talks had taken place with Comcast.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which includes CNBC.
WATCH: Disney’s second quarter earnings breakdown