Comcast president Mike Cavanagh has indicated the company would be willing to consider alternative deals for its stake in streaming service Hulu, so long as it could top the previously agreed put-call with co-owner Disney.
Comcast has a 33% stake in Hulu, while Disney took the remainder following its acquisition of 20th Century Fox. Under a deal struck in 2019, Comcast can force Disney to buy its stake in the Under The Banner Of Heaven streamer in early 2024, or Disney can force Comcast to sell the stake.
The put-call agreement will require an independent valuation, but guarantees a minimum of $27.5bn, which means that if Disney were to buy Comcast’s stake to take full ownership, then it would set them back at least $9bn.
In an interview with CNBC last month, recently returned CEO Bob Iger indicated for the first time that Disney may seek to sell its 66% of Hulu rather than acquire the streamer in full, stating that that “everything is on the table right now” in regards to its future.
“I am not going to speculate whether we are a buyer or a seller of it. But I obviously have suggested that I’m concerned about undifferentiated general entertainment, particularly in the competitive landscape that we are operating in, and we are going to look at it very objectively and expansively,” he said at the time.
Cavanagh has now weighed in after being asked about Iger’s comments at a Morgan Stanley media conference this week and while he said that Comcast would be “happy” to sell its stake to Disney, he has suggested that is not the only way forward.
“Remember, they and we, back in 2019, we put together a very clear and good agreement for a put call that does happen in early 2024. So we know what that looks like. We’re very happy and if that’s the way it plays out, that would be great.
“But if there’s something different that comes along, we have to consider things, but you could — simple to say, we won’t do something, unless it’s better in our minds than that [Disney deal],” said the Comcast boss.
Iger is set to speak at the same conference on Thursday, where Hulu’s future will no doubt come under further discussion.