July 26, 2018
Late in Comcast’s July 26 fiscal call, chairman/CEO Brian Roberts was asked about becoming a minority stake holder in Hulu should Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox Film and other Fox assets be approved.
Roberts replied management was not “prepared to address” some issues, which apparently included Hulu, which Comcast co-owns with Fox, Disney and WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner).
Disney acquiring Fox would give it 60% ownership of Hulu, with Comcast holding 30% and WarnerMedia with 10%.
There’s no love lost between Disney CEO Bob Iger and Roberts when it comes to media mergers.
The two high-profile executives have been embroiled in competing bids to acquire controlling stakes in 20th Century Fox and British satellite TV operator Sky, among other properties.
With Disney planning to launch a branded over-the-top video platform in 2019, scuttlebutt suggests the Mickey Mouse company could hit the ground running incorporating Hulu — with 17 million subscribers — as part of its strategy increasing direct-to-consumer exposure with exclusive content.
Such a move could further undermine Comcast’s legacy cable business, which continues to lose consumers to cord-cutting and OTT video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video — and Hulu.
“We’re focused on Sky now,” Roberts said. “We think it’s a great business, it will fit well, good use of capital. It’s also unique, but I don’t want to say anymore today and hopefully that addressed a number of your issues.”