Here’s why Disney’s Hulu takeover won’t matter for a while

Disney and Comcast announced that Disney will take full control of Hulu effective immediately. For Disney, that’s a big win. During an investor’s presentation in April, Disney championed Hulu as one of the cornerstones of its upcoming streaming offensive, alongside ESPN Plus and the upcoming Disney Plus.

So, what does that mean for TV buffs and Hulu subscribers? Not as much as you would think. While there is reason to be concerned that Disney is slowly gobbling up every major property in the entertainment industry, Hulu will continue to host all of its regular content for the next four years.

Per the terms of Disney and Comcast’s deal, NBCUniversal content will remain on Hulu until 2024, at which point Comcast will be able to take its programming elsewhere. Until then, Comcast has agreed to keep NBCUniversal content on Hulu, including its live TV service. Comcast will be allowed to stream some of its shows on NBC’s upcoming streaming platform, too, in exchange for lower rates from Hulu.

Basically, that means that if you use the streaming service to watch NBCUniversal programming like Community, Parks & Recreation, or many of the other great shows on Hulu, you don’t need to worry. They’re not going anywhere — at least, not for a while.

Naturally, all of the Fox programs on Hulu will stay there, too. Disney recently finalized its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox, giving it control of every single Fox property. We know that The Simpsons is headed to Disney Plus, but other Fox shows — including series like the X-Men spin-off Legion and comedy Better Things, both of which aired on Fox’s FX networks — will likely remain on Hulu.

Disney’s Fox deal might be a boon for Hulu subscribers. In the past, Disney has said that Fox’s R-rated fare, like the Deadpool flicks, will reside on Hulu, not the family-friendly Disney Plus.

The big mystery is what is going to happen in 2024 when Comcast can sell it 33% stake in Hulu to Disney for a minimum of $5.8 billion and take its programming elsewhere. By then, both Disney Plus and NBC’s streaming platforms should be in full swing, and it’ll be interesting to see how Disney plans to replace NBCUniversal’s vast library. That’s a question for the future, however. 

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