Disney could dump its sizable stake in streaming platform Hulu for the Hulk, according to one media analyst.
The Mouse House may shed its 67% stake in the popular streamer, in a deal with Comcast, which owns the other 33%, but keep the distribution rights to the green superhero and another Marvel character, Namor, according to a note by Citi analyst Jason Bazinet.
“We believe Disney may sell its 67% stake in Hulu,” said Bazinet. “In parallel, we suspect Disney may secure the distribution rights to two Marvel characters held by Comcast.”
While Disney owns all of the Marvel intellectual property, Comcast’s Universal holds the distribution rights for the Hulk and Namor, the undersea god featured in the recent Black Panther sequel. Currently, any Disney-produced Hulk and Namor-centric flicks can be shown on NBCU streaming platforms, including Peacock.
“If Hulu is sold, Disney may use this as an opportunity to secure these distribution rights,” suggested Bazinet, who has a ‘buy’ rating on Disney’s stock.
Disney did not immediately respond for comment. The Post reached out to Comcast for comment.
Disney has owned the lion’s share of Hulu, home to hit shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Dropout,” since it completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019.
Under that deal, Disney can buy out Comcast’s remaining 33% Hulu stake in Hulu as early as January 2024 — and Comcast can require that Disney buy it out. Bazinet estimated Hulu’s price tag could be valued anywhere from $19.8 billion to $27.5 billion.
The analyst believes Disney is “less interested” in a mass market streaming offering after Disney CEO Bob Iger recently told investors that he will focus more on core franchises and “aggressively curate our general entertainment content.”
“While the cost of securing these rights is likely small relative to the value of Hulu (we estimate the value at only $0.3 billion), it would fit with Mr. Iger’s desire to focus on core brands and franchises,” the analyst said. “This raises the possibility that Disney may sell its Hulu stake.”
He added that depending on the sale price and how Disney uses the proceeds, there’s a “wide range of outcomes” for Disney stock on such a deal, with the potential to shave up to $3 from the stock or add as much $13.
Disney shares traded at around $100 on Friday, well off its 52-week high of $144.46.
Hulu has been somewhat of an odd fit for the family-friendly Disney, which has poured its energy into growing Disney+ since it launched in November 2019.
In the fiscal first quarter, Hulu’s subscriber count totaled 48 million, while ESPN+ and Disney+ nabbed 24.9 million and 161.8 million subscribers, respectively.
The company saw its first quarterly decline in subscribers at Disney+ of 2.4 million and reported a $1.1 billion loss in its streaming division, which includes the aforementioned properties.
While that marked an improvement compared to the $1.5 billion loss in the fourth quarter, it was still a significant drag on profits and represents the uphill battle facing Iger.
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