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Disney to complete takeover of Hulu with US$8.6 billion deal

SAN FRANCISCO: The Walt Disney Company on Wednesday (Nov 1) announced it will buy Comcast’s US$8.6 billion stake in Hulu, completing its takeover of the streaming service.

The acquisition will “further Disney’s streaming objectives,” the company said in a press release, and comes as it strives to boost subscriber numbers at its Disney+ streaming service.

The deal values Hulu at US$27.5 billion in total, according to Disney, which said the transaction will be concluded by Dec 1.

The California-based entertainment giant already sells Hulu as part of bundled offerings with its Disney+ and ESPN+ platforms.

The company will release its latest quarterly earnings next week, providing a look at how its cable and streaming television services are doing in the fiercely competitive market.

Disney in August reported that Disney+ lost more than 10 million subscribers in the recently ended quarter, in large part due to the Indian market.

Disney+ finished the second three months of this year with 146.1 million subscribers, compared with just shy of 158 million in the prior quarter, the group said.

Disney rival Netflix last month said subscriber numbers grew nearly 11 per cent to 247 million in the recently ended quarter as it cracked down on password sharing and refined an ad-supported tier.

The leading streaming service increased prices on some of its plans, perhaps creating an opportunity for competitors such as Disney.

Netflix said in an earnings report that its nascent ad-supported offering was gaining traction, and the coming Disney earnings should provide insight into whether the same is true for its ad-supported tier.

Meanwhile, film and television makers see productions halted by an actors strike in the United States, meaning a potential lack of fresh content needed to attract and keep streaming service subscribers.

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