Hulu is a U.S.-based subscription, video on demand service fully controlled and majority-owned by Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, a business segment of The Walt Disney Company, with Comcast’s NBCUniversal as an equity stakeholder owning 33%.
The service was initially established as a joint venture between News Corporation and NBC Universal, Providence Equity Partners, and later Walt Disney, serving as an aggregation of recent episodes of television series from their respective television networks. In 2010, Hulu launched a subscription service, initially branded as Hulu Plus, which featured full seasons of programs from the companies and other partners, and undelayed access to new episodes. In 2017, the company launched Hulu with Live TV—an over-the-top IPTV service featuring linear television channels. Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) later held a stake in the service.
Key executives instrumental in the founding of Hulu include Bruce Campbell, Peter Chernin, JB Perrette, Michael Lang, Beth Comstock, and Jason Kilar. The venture was announced in March 2006 with AOL, NBC Universal, Facebook, MSN, Myspace, and Yahoo! planned as “initial distribution partners”. Jason Kilar was named Hulu CEO in late 2007.
In March 2019, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, giving it a 60% majority stake in Hulu. AT&T (which acquired Time Warner in 2018) sold back its roughly 10% stake the following month. Comcast, the only other shareholder, announced on May 14, 2019, that it had agreed to cede its control to Disney, and reached an agreement for Disney to purchase its 33% stake in the company as early as 2024. Hulu will be operated as a bridge brand alongside Disney’s fellow OTT ventures Disney+ and ESPN+, with Hulu positioned as its streaming brand for general entertainment outside of Disney’s family-oriented studios and properties