Comcast had a frustrating run as a part owner of the Hulu video streaming platform, but this does not make the decision to sell its minority stake in the company easier.
"Concerning Hulu's relationship with NBC, it is very much in everyone's interest," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday. "And we do not have news about it today, except that it's really valuable, and we're really glad we have a big chunk of it."
For years, Comcast was no longer given permission to participate in Hulu's part of a consent agreement that Comcast had agreed to take on NBCUniversal in 2011. (NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.)
Seven years later, Comcast's ownership in Hulu switched from passive to active, and when the 2018 consent expired, Roberts and NBC CEO Steve Burke made some statements about the future of the company.
But just as Comcast was out of the game, 21st Century Fox agreed to sell its 30% stake in Hulu to Disney. This deal, which closed last month, silenced Comcast again. Instead of being the equal owner with Fox and Disney, Comcast now owns a minority stake in Disney's 60%.
"In fifty years, will we be in Hulu? No, I do not think so," said Burke Variety in January. "But I do not think we'll sell in five minutes."
As of today, NBC delivers approximately 17% of Hulu's content. NBC does not intend to remove content from Hulu, which will serve as an NBC ship for shows in the same season after the company's new streaming service is launched in 2020. (The NBC streaming service will feature the company's library of TV shows and films.)
There are compelling reasons for Comcast to hold and sell. Below is the topic discussed by Comcast, which is owned by people who are familiar with the thinking of the company.