In a not totally unexpected move, AT&T has sold its 9.5 per cent share back to Hulu for roughly $1.43bn, allowing majority shareholder Disney to gain even more control of the service. AT&T, who is rumored to have its own streaming service in the works, said the company will use the money to pay off a portion of its debt.
Last year, Hulu’s majority control was up in the air, with Disney, Fox, and Comcast all owning 30 per cent of the company each. After Disney acquired Fox earlier this year, its shares jumped to around 66 per cent. Now that AT&T’s out, Comcast (NBC & Universal), holds the remaining 33 per cent.
The sale puts AT&T - which owns WarnerMedia, TBS, and TBT- in the perfect position to pull its content from Hulu ahead of the launch of AT&T’s own similar streaming service. Regardless, Hulu CEO Randy Freer stated AT&T will be a “valued partner” well into the future.
Disney also just announced its own streaming service, Disney+, which will launch in November and be predominantly focused on family-friendly content. At the same time, Disney has expressed interest in keeping Hulu for streaming more mature content, focusing on an adult audience. There is speculation that Disney may even create a bundle offer for Hulu and Disney+.