Disney Chief Bob Iger Says It’s “Very Tricky” To Assess Hulu’s Long-Term Value As Decision Point With Comcast Approaches – Deadline

With the fate of Hulu’s property to be determined soon, Disney CEO Bob Iger says it’s “really tricky” to determine long-term value as streaming in general is still in a “nascent” phase .

“We’re studying the business really, really carefully, all those competitive dynamics, realizing that we have a good platform in Hulu,” the exec said while appearing at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. “We have very strong original programming … and we also have a good library.” The service, he added, is “very attractive to advertisers.”

Despite those positives, Iger said, “the environment right now is very, very tricky. Before we make big decisions about our level of investment and commitment to that business, we want to understand where it could go.”

A “put/call” will take effect in early 2024 under the 2019 deal that gave Disney full operational control of Hulu. Under the terms of the deal, Disney could force Comcast to sell its 33% stake, which would cost at least $9 billion. Some Wall Street analysts believe Comcast could maneuver to take control of Hulu, in light of Iger’s comments about the limits of mainstream entertainment in streaming. Iger, who returned to CEO chairmanship last November, told CNBC last month that “all options are on the table.”

Iger noted that “the whole streaming business — except for Netflix, which is relatively mature — is a nascent business for most of us. And we’re also at an interesting point in the world, from a media perspective, where a lot of people are still linear programming and while I’ve said publicly that I don’t think the future of linear is very bright and eventually everything will migrate to streaming, we’re not quite there yet.”

Operating in the US only, Hulu had 48 million subscribers by the end of 2022 – 4.5 million on Hulu + Live TV and the rest on the on-demand version of the service.

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