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The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Disney’s Purchase of Hulu
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The Walt Disney Company announced that they would buy the remaining 33% stake of Hulu that is currently owned by Comcast. By Dec. 1, the plan is to buy Hulu for an estimated $8.61 billion, a move that will give Disney complete ownership of the streaming service.

On Sept. 6, Brian Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, said at an investor conference that his company (Hulu) had agreed to move up negotiations to sell its stake to The Walt Disney Company. Roberts said that Comcast and Disney have yet to conclude their negotiations on a fair market price for Hulu. The fate of Hulu’s market value will not be released until next year.  

“We look forward to the appraisal process and the determination of Hulu’s fair market value which we expect will reflect the extraordinary value of the business,” Comcast said in a statement.

In another statement, Roberts said “It will take a little time for this to play out, but both companies wanted to get it behind us, so we pulled the date forward.”.

Disney has been trying to get hold of its remaining share of Hulu since 2019, when Hulu’s value was at least $27.5 billion. 

Isabelle Schunk, a third-year theater major, consumes both Hulu and Disney and sees why Disney would want to buy Hulu. Yet, she also fears what this could mean in terms of Disney’s media control.

“Disney owns so much production,” Schunk said. “They own so much that it’s insane. At what point is Disney a monopoly?” 

Caitlin Carlson, an associate professor and the chair of the communication and media department at Seattle U, talked about the impact of Disney’s ownership of Hulu. She emphasized how it is dangerous for one media company to own multiple media outlets and streaming services in the market.

“I would define this [Disney buying Hulu] not necessarily as a monopoly, but probably an oligopoly, where it’s just a handful of owners that have their arms around everything,” Carlson said. 

She explained how an oligopoly occurs when one company owns so much of a particular market and that sometimes the government will intervene due to them violating an antitrust law. 

Carlson also brought up that having so few companies owning most of the media outlets gives power to these companies to share their worldviews and ideologies, thus limiting diversity in programming. 

Nadeen Radi, a third-year finance major at Seattle U, talked about both the process and the reason behind why Disney would buy Hulu. 

“This whole process is called mergers and acquisitions, and companies merge and acquire for a variety of reasons,” Radi said. 

She discussed how Disney’s goal in buying Hulu is to both help grow its audience as well as try to fight other competitors such as Netflix.  

Netflix, a competitor of Disney+, has approximately 247.2 million paid subscribers worldwide in 2023. Netflix generated a total revenue of over 9 billion U.S. dollars in the third quarter of 2023. 

On the other hand, Disney+ had only 150 million subscribers by the end of the fourth quarter of 2023. Disney+ had then gone down to 112.6 million subscribers around Sep. 30, 2023. Disney+ has generated a revenue of $6.16 billion in 2023 for now. For comparison, Disney+ made a revenue of $7.423 billion in 2022. 

Hulu, with its latest recorded number of subscribers, has 48 million paid subscribers as of December 2022. Hulu made $11.2 billion in revenue in 2023.

According to Disney, buying Hulu will help them get better engagement, more advertising, lower churn and reduced customer acquisition costs. They believe that adding Hulu to the circle will help increase revenue. 

What this acquisition means for the future of Hulu is unclear, but Disney’s growing media influence is apparent.

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