When talk of the Disney/Fox merger first broke, we mentioned the next few years would be a frenzy of consolidation. We expected it to be more alliances between telecoms and media conglomerates, but it may just end up being Disney buying everything.
And that dark future in which there is only the Mouse came one step closer to reality Tuesday morning as Disney and Comcast announced Hulu’s future will be at Disney. There had been talk about Disney buying Comcast’s share of the streaming service for some time. The cable giant’s plan for a NBCUniversal streaming service also suggested a big change was in the works for Hulu; originally a project spearheaded by the former Fox entity, ABC, and NBC. But with Disney acquiring Fox’s share of Hulu, it became bullish on claiming the remaining third from Comcast, a former suitor for the Fox assets.
According to Variety, Disney will buy Comcast’s share for “at least $5.8 billion.” The deal will keep NBCU content on the service through 2024. Although, some shows may become non-exclusive as soon as next year, much in the way the older Star Trek series are available on multiple platforms. Additionally, some NBCU shows may disappear as early as 2022.
Nonetheless, Hulu will become the home of more “mature” content not suitable for the family-friendly Disney+ service launching in November. Shows like the upcoming Marvel animated series, Ghost Rider and Helstrom indicate the sort of content the service will house. We’re also assuming it will become the home of any R-Rated 20th Century Fox films, like Alien.
“We are now able to completely integrate Hulu into our direct-to-consumer business and leverage the full power of The Walt Disney Company’s brands and creative engines to make the service even more compelling and a greater value for consumers,” Disney chairmam Bob Iger said in a statement. As has been suggested, Disney may offer Disney+ and Hulu at a special bundle rate. And while that might seem exciting, further consolidation makes Disney’s control of media all the more unsettling. We may soon be in a time when Amazon, Disney and Comcast are the only three players in town. Yeah, we’ve left Netflix off that list as it will eventually be absorbed by one of the other companies in our vision of this extreme monopolized media future.
In the meantime, though, we are still legitimately excited about The Mandalorian.