Disney chief Bob Iger says it’s “very difficult” to assess Hulu’s long-term value as a decision point using Comcast approaches Deadline

With the fate of the Hulu property soon to be decided, Disney CEO Bob Iger says it’s “very difficult” to determine its long-term value given that streaming in general is still in the “emerging” stage.

“We’re really looking at the business very carefully, all those competitive dynamics, recognizing that we have a good platform on Hulu,” the CEO said in an appearance at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference. “We have very strong original programming…we also have a good library.” He added that the service is “very attractive to advertisers”.

Despite these positives, Egger said, “The environment is very challenging right now. Before we make any significant decisions about our level of investment and commitment to this business, we want to understand where it could go.”

In early 2024, a “put/call” will take effect under the 2019 deal that gave Disney complete operating control of Hulu. Under the terms of the deal, Disney could force Comcast to sell it its 33% stake, which would cost at least $9 billion. Some Wall Street analysts think Comcast can maneuver to take control of Hulu, in light of Iger’s comments about the limits of general entertainment in streaming. Iger, who returned to the CEO role last November, told CNBC last month that “all options are on the table.”

Iger noted, “The whole streaming business — other than Netflix, which is relatively mature — is an emerging business for most of us. We’re also at an interesting point in the world, from a media perspective, where a lot of people still have access to linear programming and while I’ve said publicly that I don’t think the future is Linearity is very bright and eventually everything will move towards broadcasting, we’re just not there yet.”

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Hulu, which only operates in the US, had 48 million subscribers as of the end of 2022 — 4.5 million on Hulu + Live TV and the rest on the on-demand version of the service.

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