As the streaming war intensifies, rumors of AT&T selling its stake in Hulu have finally come to fruition, with the telecom giant announcing the sale today.
Hulu has bought back telecom heavyweight AT&T Inc’s stake in the U.S. home entertainment streaming service for $1.43 billion, in a deal that values Hulu at $15 billion, the company stated on Monday.
The sale of AT&T’s 9.5 percent stake to Hulu in an all-cash transaction gives Walt Disney Co, which holds a 60 percent stake in Hulu by means of a joint venture, more control of the direction of the company.
Hulu affirmed it ended 2018 with more than 25 million total viewers, a net gain of 8 million for the year. In 2015, by comparison, according to Hulu, it grew advertisement revenue more than 45% in 2018, to almost $1.5 billion.
The end of Hulu as we know it?
In between this and Disney’s procurement of critical Fox assets, Hulu’s joint endeavor is down to just two organizations, Disney and Comcast. It’s not yet known just how this sale influences the ownership proportions, but Disney now has bulk control with 60 percent while Comcast had a 30 percent share. This further consolidates power and could influence how this streaming war plays out.
However, it’s not all about the cash and ownership ratio; Disney getting much more control over Hulu could likewise mean a fundamental shift in what Hulu even is. Today, the service provides streaming content from a rich variety of providers, including Comcast-owned NBC and Universal, and AT&T- owned networks like TBS and TNT.
If Comcast follows suit and ditches its stake of Hulu, it might leave Hulu as an individually Disney service that compliments the upcoming $7-a-month Disney+. Disney has actually even implied as much, with the company highlighting in the previous few days the various roles it predicts for Hulu and Disney+.
The streaming war heats up
It’s still unclear who will be the biggest winners of a new streaming war between streaming behemoths Netflix and Disney.
Shares in Disney reached a record high after the media giant revealed an aggressive plan to go head to head with Netflix.
Streaming incumbent and growth icon Netflix had a tough reaction, nevertheless. Netflix shares fell about 5% Friday, while Disney’s stock surged more than 10%.
While that’s great for Disney, it’s certainly less enticing for customers, who might see the last streaming services to offer cross-network material get broken into a giant pile of fees from any number of providers just to see specific television programs.
The primary cause for the share prices to diverge in such a manner is that investors feared Disney’s gain would be Netflix’s loss. Yet as the dust falls and Netflix awaits a critical earnings report on Tuesday, it warrants questioning the notion that just one supplier can be the winner in the streaming war.
There are more than 1 billion global subscribers and much more accessing the web by means of mobile devices.
The arrival of data-friendly 5G wireless innovations will only accelerate streaming adoption. This will be a significant and growing market that can easily support many sides of the streaming war.