Is Hulu owned by Disney? If it’s a question in your mind, let’s find out!
A brief look at the appalling and yet enthralling landscape of popular entertainment will tell you that it’s all about umbrella organizations stretching their reach as far and wide as possible. This is done to ensure that there is more profitability and less competition, which of course leads to even more money made.
In all of this mess, massive trillion-dollar companies like Disney, Comcast, and NBC stand out the most. And this has been the running trend for most businesses.
For example, Swedish corporation Embracer Group recently added Saber Interactive (Vampyr) and Gearbox Entertainment (Borderlands) to their ever-expanding coalition.
Disney themselves made the high-profile acquisitions of Marvel Entertainment and 21st Century Fox, making it more than just an industry giant.
So, Is Hulu owned by Disney? And ESPN? Find out exactly that and more!
Disney’s Acquisitions: A Brief History
Our journey begins in the summer of 2006. Fresh off the boat of capturing all of the rights to both Fox Family and Saban Entertainment (creators of the massive Power Rangers franchise), Disney acquired Pixar Entertainment.
Pixar by then had already made themselves a huge household name with the releases of several successful franchises, and this was a massive step up to Disney’s already spectacular set of fable-based Intellectual Property.
Regardless, the American giant continued their stride, acquiring Marvel in December of 2009, which allowed them to start off the MCU which, as we know how, is ballooning in profit as we speak.
So, what does this mean for the future, and why is it viewed in such a bad light?
Acquisitions mean diversification of offerings, and consolidation of earnings.
Instead of starting a division that competes with the industry, megacorporations like Disney want to have their cake and eat it too. And the best way to do that is via a straight up acquisition.
Now, let’s take a look at why Disney might have been interested in the deal in the first place.
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Hulu’s Not-So-Humble Beginnings
Hulu was announced in March 2007 with Jason Kilar, one of the founders, announced as the CEO. The same year, it went live, without any content however, for beta-testing which prospective users were invited.
In the next two years, Hulu continued to grow in size and scale, even going so far as to run a TV spot with Alec Baldwin during the Super Bowl XLIII, titled “Alec in Huluwood”. And they haven’t looked back ever since.
With the instant and prolonged success of The Handmaid’s Tale, the service took off, and since then have added Atlanta, Reservation Dogs, Better Things, Justified, PEN15 and Harlots to their repertoire. Viewers quickly took notice, and in no time, Hulu managed to start giving other popular services like Netflix a run for their money.
In fact, as early as the first two quarters of 2010, Kilar announced that profits of $100 million had been made, which eclipsed the revenue that the company had made in the entirety of 2009.
At a time when the total views on the service were only second to YouTube, a report was published, wherein it was stated that the company wanted to go public, which would value them at around an eye-watering $2 billion.
And even though they were rumored to have an “unsolicited offer” in January 2011, Hulu reconfirmed that they were not selling, in October of the same year.
Is Hulu Owned By Disney?
In 2009, Disney acquired a minority stake in Hulu, which continued behind the scenes until March 2019. With Disney’s official acquisition of 20th Century Fox, 60% of the stake in Hulu also went to them.
So, as it stands, it’s a yes and no. Yes, Hulu is owned by Disney, and no, it is not entirely owned by the media giant. It’s a correct answer for the question: Is Hulu owned by Disney?
The rest of the shares were owned by Comcast, who had exactly one-third of the streaming service. This majority was achieved by AT&T relinquishing their 10%, which was sold to Disney, making their share 67%.
In May of the same year, Comcast also gave up their rights to Disney, making themselves a silent partner. In an agreement, it was decided that Comcast could sell their 33% share to Disney by 2024.
This brings us to ESPN.
Yes, ESPN has been owned by the ABC television network since 1984, which has made Disney the owners of ESPN since their takeover of ABC in 1995. So yes, your favorite sports channel is owned by the mouse.
Some other companies that you may not know are owned by Disney are –
- National Geographic – Yep, as a result of taking over 21st Century Fox, Nat Geo is owned by Disney.
- The Muppets Studio – The Muppets Studio was acquired from the Jim Henson company by Disney in 2004.
- Lucasfilm – In a $4 billion deal, Lucasfilm was sold to the mouse in 2012. In context, the movies Rogue One, The Force Awakens and the Last Jedi made a total of over $4 billion, making this one of the smarter purchases Disney has made.
Aside from that, they also have a stake in GoPro and own a few more recognized networks such as Baby TV, Star TV and the History Network. Yeah, wrap your head around that.