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Disney Now Fully Owns Hulu, So What Does That Mean?

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 14, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 14, 2019 |


Media consolidation is bad. It stifles competition, it discourages originality and innovation, and it drives up prices. I hate it. On the other hand, if all the media companies could just consolidate under one entity (presumably Disney, at this point), maybe we would only have to subscribe to one f***ing streaming service.

I like Hulu. I like it a lot. It has a nice slate of original programming (that is improving by the month), a nice stable of licensed content, and a lot of network shows that I can watch the day after commercial-free. However, Comcast has sold its stake in Hulu to Disney, meaning that Hulu is now wholly owned by Disney (last year, it was owned by Warner, Comcast, AT&T and Disney).

What does that mean? Nothing now. Comcast’s NBCUniversal will continue to license its sitcoms (like Superstore and Good Place) to Hulu for three years, and since Disney now owns ABC, Fox and FX, Bob’s Burgers and Better Things, Black-ish and It’s Always Sunny will continue to air on Hulu. However, NBCUniversal has only agreed to license its content for another three years, and next year, after Comcast launches its own streaming service, it will be able to also stream its own shows. But in three years, NBC — should it decide to do so — can pull all of its content from Hulu and air it exclusively on its own streaming service.

For the next three years, however, it’s not a terrible situation for consumers, because not only will Hulu remain largely unchanged, but it will also be easier for Disney to bundle it with Disney+, which we’re all going to end up getting because we’re suckers for Disney, which also owns Marvel and Pixar. And to be honest, for the next three years anyway, Hulu and Disney+ combined will give us access to Fox, FX, ABC, and NBC, while Netflix — which most of us already own — gives us access to most of The CW’s programming (after the entire season airs). At this point, we barely even need cable, except to watch BBC America (Killing Eve) and AMC series (The Walking Dead, which eventually airs on Netflix anyway), unless you need it for sports programming, cable news, or CBS (and no one needs CBS). (And someone will probably eventually buy up AMC/Sundance/BBC America/IFC, which will make all of this much easier).

The next few years, however, are going to get super confusing, because NBCUniversal will pull all of its content from Hulu and Netflix, WarnerMedia and Disney will put its content from Netflix, AT&T will have its own streaming network, in addition to Apple Streaming, by which point the Big Four won’t be ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS, it will be Hulu, Netflix, Apple, Warner, and NBC Universal, plus HBO and Amazon and CBS All Access and DC Streaming … and seriously, conglomerates suck, but if Disney could just buy up everything, life would be so much simpler and dumber.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Hulu/Disney