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Comcast's next steps with Hulu and Disney

Tim Baysinger
Aug 19, 2022
Illustration of Mickey Mouse holding Hulu logo

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Comcast does not have much of a reason to engage Disney on selling its Hulu stake before the 2024 deadline. Unless, of course, Disney is willing to pay a whopping price.

Why it matters: Third Point's new activist campaign has focused on the hedge fund's demand (among others) for Disney's early move on that Comcast piece of Hulu, which it's on the hook to buy in 2024.

  • Less of a focus has been placed on the owner of that stake, as well as the valid question of, why would Comcast want to sell now?

Of note: For Comcast, offloading its 33% ownership of the streaming service early for a "modest premium" (as Third Point's letter notes) would seem to be selling low, because Comcast is guaranteed a minimum Hulu valuation of $27.5 billion.

  • That means, at worst, a roughly $9 billion payday for Comcast. You've got a floor price, so why not hold to the deadline for a less modest premium?

Context: Last fall, Comcast executives said they're perfectly fine waiting another 18 months.

  • "We're happy to be along for that ride. I'm glad we didn't exit at the time three or so years ago. I like the deal we have," CFO Mike Cavanagh told analysts during their quarterly earnings call last October. "It'll be fine if we stay until the end because I expect the value to keep increasing."

The bottom line: If Disney doesn't want to wait until January 2024, it's going to cost them.

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