Will Disney sell Hulu?

published23 days ago
3 min read

Welcome to Nonrival, the newsletter where readers make predictions about tech, business, and the economy.

How it works

  1. On Sundays, read the newsletter and make a forecast by clicking a link at the bottom.
  2. On Wednesdays, see what other readers predicted and how your forecast compares.
  3. Over time, you’ll get scores based on how accurate your forecasts are.

In this issue

  • Forecast: Will Disney sell Hulu?

Thanks for forecasting. Send feedback to

Will Disney sell Hulu?

Does Hulu belong in the House of Mouse? Disney currently owns two-thirds of the streaming platform and it needs to decide by January whether it wants to buy the rest. And that choice raises bigger questions about the entertainment giant: Does Disney want to be a massive conglomerate that does some of everything? Or does it want to double down on its most recognizable franchises?

The backdrop is that Disney’s streaming empire is bleeding money. The division lost Disney $1.1 billion in Q4 and $1.5 billion Q3. CEO Bob Iger needs to stem those losses without giving up on streaming. Could selling Hulu be the answer?

This week's forecast:

  • Will Disney announce an agreement by end of this year to sell its stake in Hulu?


News Corp and NBC launched Hulu in 2007 and the platform added a subscription offering in 2010. Disney joined the partnership in 2009.

Disney owns two-thirds of Hulu and has an option to buy the rest from Comcast. In 2019 it acquired a majority stake when it bought 21st Century Fox; Comcast owns the rest. Disney can buy out Comcast—or Comcast can force Disney to buy its stake—for a pre-agreed price of $9.2 billion.

Comcast also owns NBC and its Peacock streaming channel. Comcast's CEO said last year that it would be interested in buying Hulu from Disney.

Hulu has 48 million paying subscribers and brings in about $12 per subscriber—roughly double what Disney+ makes, though still shy of Netflix. Disney’s streaming losses were a major reason why CEO Bob Chapek was ousted last year, paving the way for Iger’s return.

Hulu got 58 Emmy nominations last year, a record for the platform, led by “Only Murders in the Building” and “Dopesick.” But that still trails the major prestige streamers: HBO got 140 nominations and Netflix got 105.

Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC in Feb. that “everything is on the table” regarding Hulu. More on that below.



Here's what Iger has said:

“We are intent on reducing our debt… I’ve talked about general entertainment being undifferentiated. I’m not going to speculate if we’re a buyer or a seller of it. But I’m concerned about undifferentiated general entertainment. We’re going to look at it very objectively.” —Bob Iger, via CNBC
"We will focus even more on our core brands and franchises, which have consistently delivered high returns." —Bob Iger, via Seeking Alpha

Here’s what Comcast’s CEO said last year:

“Hulu’s a phenomenal business. Its scale is fantastic. It has wonderful content… If it was up for sale, Comcast would be interested [ in buying 100% of Hulu, and] others would I think as well.” —via Variety, Sept. 2022

Here’s what analysts have said:

“That deal had a five-year window, meaning Iger has until January 2024 to decide what to do. He has essentially three options: 1. Buy the last 33% of Hulu from Comcast for at least $9 billion, based on the fair market value the two companies agreed upon way back when. 2. Entertain Comcast’s openly stated interest in buying the rest of Hulu. 3. Something else.” —Andrew Rosen, The Information
“Citi now believes that Walt Disney might sell out of its majority stake in Hulu… Before earnings season, Citi believed there were two paths for Disney's direct-to-consumer business: Either [raise prices]... or merge Disney+ and Hulu into a single app… Now, analyst Jason Bazinet says, ‘we believe the company is less interested in a mass market DTC offering.’" —Jayson Aycock, Seeking Alpha, March 2023
“I think Hulu is actually a critical part of the overall streaming mix for Disney—from both a programming and strategic point of view. I don't think they should sell it, and I think Iger will move to buy out Comcast's share, as that is an awkward position for Disney. Hulu brings a mix of content that’s different, more adult skewing, and complementary to Disney... Disney+ might be hard to see as a purely stand-alone product. I see Hulu & ESPN helping the overall content proposition. Remember that adults pay for the subscription." —former Sony executive Seth Schachner via The Street, Feb. 2023

For more, here’s the January issue of Nonrival that tackled Disney vs. Netflix, and here’s the follow-up with reader responses. In that issue, readers mostly believed Disney would keep its lead in streaming subscribers over Netflix.


Will Disney announce an agreement by end of this year to sell its stake in Hulu?

​~10% chance​ ​​​​(very unlikely)

​​​~30% chance​ ​​​​(unlikely)

​​​~50% chance​ ​​​(uncertain)

​​​​~70% chance​ ​​​​(likely)

​​​~90% chance​​​​ (very likely)

The fine print

Just want to make a quick forecast? Click a link above and you're done! Your forecast will be recorded.

Or, click a link and then complete the survey. You can make your forecast more precise and guess what other readers will say.

Deadline: Make a forecast by 9am ET Tues. March 7.

Resolution criteria: Disney must publicly announce an agreement to sell all of its ownership stake in Hulu before Jan. 1, 2024. The effective date of a sale would be immaterial, but the buyer or buyers must be party to the agreement but not necessarily named.

You can also follow this question on Good Judgment Open.