AT&T has sold its stake in Hulu back to the joint venture that owns the streaming service, amid a reorganization of its digital media properties and the impending launch of its own video platform at WarnerMedia.
The transaction valued Hulu at $15 billion, and At&T’s 9.5% stake at $1.43 billion. Hulu’s last publicly-reported valuation, in a November regulatory filing by joint owner Disney, was $9.3 billion. Time Warner, which is now owned by AT&T, purchased its stake in Hulu roughly three years ago for $600 million — meaning the value of its stake has more than doubled in that time.
“We thank AT&T for their support and investment over the past two years and look forward to collaboration in the future,” Hulu CEO Randy Freer said in a statement. “WarnerMedia will remain a valued partner to Hulu for years to come as we offer customers the best of TV, live, and on-demand, all in one place.”
Launched in 2008 and currently counting 25 million subscribers in the U.S., Hulu was initially co-owned by Disney (30%), 21st Century Fox (30%), Comcast (30%), and AT&T (10%). — with none of the media titans assuming a majority. Today, Disney — which closed its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox last month — owns roughly 60% of Hulu, with Comcast owning the remaining shares.
In February, reports surfaced that Disney was in active discussions to purchase AT&T’s Hulu stake. At the time, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke (NBCUniversal is a division of Comcast) said that it did not intend to vend its stake, thus giving Disney full ownership. That said, Disney execs in recent days have speculated about what full ownership of Hulu might look like, including bundling Hulu for sale with two of its other streaming offers: the forthcoming Disney Plus and sports-centric ESPN Plus.