Hulu has bought back US telco AT&T’s 9.5% minority stake in the streaming video joint venture for a US$1.43 billion.
The deal leaves Hulu’s majority owner Disney and minority owner Comcast as the remaining shareholders in the US video business and values the company at US$15 billion.
The move comes as AT&T prepares to launch its own WarnerMedia subscription video-on-demand service in the fourth quarter of 2019.
However, 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.”
Yesterday’s Hulu transaction did not require any US governmental or third-party approvals and was signed and closed simultaneously.
Freer said: “We thank AT&T for their support and investment over the past two years and look forward to collaboration in the future.”
AT&T will use the proceeds from the Hulu deal, along with additional planned sales of non-core assets, to reduce its debt.
The company completed its blockbuster US$85 billion acquisition of Time Warner last June – a move that put it in control of media and entertainment businesses Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.
The forthcoming WarnerMedia SVOD service is due to include three levels of service: an entry-level movie-focused package; a premium service with original programming and movies; and a third service that bundles content from the first two with an extensive library of WarnerMedia and licensed content.
Disney is also gearing up for the launch later this year of its own Disney+ streaming service. This is due to launch in the US on November 12, 2019 and will feature content from the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic brands.