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Disney’s Deal with Comcast May Be Why They Aren’t Going Global with Hulu

Stephanie Sengwe

Often times, when people speak about big streaming services within the U.S., up until recently, the top names sure to come up were Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Since launching last November, Disney+ has found its way onto that list.

However, on the international stage, it seems Hulu doesn’t have as much pull as it does in the United States. Back in August, Disney announced they will be launching a new international streaming service under their Star brand. The service is expected to offer library content from the company’s wide-ranging brands such as ABC Studios, FOX Television, FX, Freeform, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight.

That Disney would launch a new service under Star and not Hulu raised some eyebrows as the latter is yet to expand internationally. Now a new report from Bloomberg is offering some insight into why that may be.

According to Bloomberg, Disney is currently trying to minimize adding value to Hulu due to the fact that they are in the process of aquiring Comcast’s share in the streaming service. Last year, Disney decided they were going to buy out Comcast’s one-third ownership share in Hulu.

At the time, the final price was yet to be determined, however, Comcast’s third is worth no less than $9.2 billion, valuing the streaming service at $27B. However, should Disney decide to take the platform international, the value in Hulu could increase, meaning they would have shell out more dough to Comcast by the time the acquisition completes in 2024.

According to Bloomberg, the lack of an international presence isn’t for lack of trying from Hulu. Back in 2011, when the service was still a joint venture between Fox, NBCUniversal and Disney, the service tried its hand at international expansion and launched in Japan. However, though “Japan’s insularity had frustrated many Western media companies…Hulu’s owners were reluctant to introduce the service in any region of the world where they operated major cable networks.”

The attempt failed as the service couldn’t get enough foothold, and Hulu Japan was sold to a local broadcaster.

Now, with Disney restructuring their company around direct-to-consumer offerings, Disney+ is the center of attention. While Hulu was reported to have reached 35.5 million subscribers in Disney’s Q3 2020 in August, Disney+ was at 60.5 million subscribers, merely nine months after its launch.

The two companies are linked however, as the two are bundled, along with ESPN+, as part of the Disney Bundle for $12.99 a month.

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