Disney CEO Bob Chapek's Hulu Comments Hint at Major Merger With Disney+

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has big plans for Hulu when the planned deal between Disney and NBCUniversal closes in 2024. That year, Comcast has the right (but not the obligation) to sell its remaining 33% of Hulu to Disney for at least $27.5 billion. Media Play News reports that Disney CEO Bob Chapek would like to move up the sale window, and buy at a lower price, although now that Comcast is interested in buying Hulu outright, it seems a lot less likely that the lower price is a possibility. Comcast became a silent partner in Hulu after the Disney-Fox merger, with its 33% stake in the streaming service. The deal left a door open for Disney to negotiate purchase of Comcast's Hulu stake at fair market value, with the $27.5 billion as the floor. 

In 2021, Comcast accused Disney of purposely constraining Hulu's growth to control that market price, damagingHulu's international reach in favor of launching the Disney Star streaming service in foreign markets. Comcast has since started pulling its content off Hulu and using it to build up Comcast's Peacock streaming service.

"I do believe that we have to have full ownership of Hulu to integrate with Disney+, and we would love to get to the end point earlier," Chapek told investors on Wednesday. "If we can get there, I'd be more than happy to try and facilitate that."

Of course, to get there earlier -- or at all -- Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has made clear that they aren't interested in discounting the purchase price. The ongoing disagreements between the two, and the brand value of Hulu itself, seems to point toward a pretty contentious sale, when it eventually happens.

"I believe if Hulu was put up for sale, Comcast would be interested [in buying it]," Roberts said. "So would a lot of other tech and media companies. You would have a robust auction."

He added, "Regardless, 100% value of Hulu is what we are entitled to, but if it were up for sale, we certainly, and I think others would want to get into that opportunity. I think our position [in Hulu] is very enviable for us and our shareholders. As a company, Hulu has done a spectacular job."