The speculation about Disney’s continued involvement with Hulu continues following a recent note from an analyst to their clients. Last month Disney CEO Bob Iger said that “everything is on the table” when asked about Disney’s continued co-ownership of the streaming service. Presently it owns 67% percent while Comcast holds the remaining 33%. Citi analyst Jason Bazinet recently sent a note to clients explaining the theory behind the possible sale.
Excerpt #1 from the note (via Yahoo News)
“We believe Disney may sell its 67% stake in Hulu,” Citi analyst Jason Bazinet wrote in a new note to clients on Wednesday. “In parallel, we suspect Disney may secure the distribution rights to two Marvel characters held by Comcast (Hulk and Namor).”
A Still Fragmented Marvel
This is where following the paper trail becomes necessary as Disney owns Marvel but it (Marvel) does not yet own the distribution rights to all of its characters. This has been a longstanding thorn in Marvel’s side for decades as the company made many deals with multiple companies over the years for various character distribution rights. Since Disney’s purchase of Marvel, it has been slowly reacquiring many characters back in deals such as those gained from buying Fox and licensing deals with Sony, and another with Paramount early on, but Hulk and Namor still reside with Comcast. On that side of the fence Comcast owns NBC/Universal and per distribution rights, would be able to stream a Namor or Hulk film on its Peacock streaming service.
So in breaking it down Hulu, as assessed by the analyst, has an estimated value between 19.8 billion and $27.5 billion. Meanwhile, the estimated value of the distribution rights for these characters is a pittance, comparatively speaking, at $0.03 billion.
Excerpt #2 from the note (via Yahoo News)
“While the cost of securing these rights is likely small relative to the value of Hulu (we estimate the value at only $0.3 billion), it would fit with Mr. Iger’s desire to focus on core brands and franchises,” the analyst said.”
Aliens and Predator Franchises
Bob Iger has also previously said that another goal is to reduce Disney’s overall debt so it’s possible the extra money from selling its stake in Hulu could go towards that. However, content from its Alien and Predator franchises (via Fox) then becomes a potential issue. Disney is currently licensing these to other streaming services, including Hulu, and while it has added parental controls/options to Disney+ for Mature Rated content, it has not yet announced any plans to include these on Disney+. With multiple plans involving shows and movies for both franchises, Disney would need a strategy for streaming both.