July 12, 2013
Hulu Is Off The Market
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Streaming video service Hulu is apparently no longer for sale. The website, which is co-owned by 21st-Century Fox, NBCUniversal and the Walt Disney Company is off the market. Now, instead of looking to sell, the owners are reportedly opting to invest as much as $750 million in the service to spur its growth.
The partners announced on Friday that the best path forward for the video streaming service is a "meaningful recapitalization" - one that could accelerate growth under its current ownership structure.
"We had meaningful conversations with a number of potential partners and buyers, each with impressive plans and offers to match," Chase Carey, president and chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, said in a statement. "But with 21st Century Fox and Disney fully aligned in our collective vision and goals for the business, we decided to continue to empower the Hulu team, in this fashion, to continue the incredible momentum they've built over the last few years."
Friday had been the deadline for the submission of final bids for Hulu, which had debuted in October 2007 in a partnership between its three corporate owners. Just a year later, it was named number four in Time magazine's 50 best inventions for the year.
It wasn't reported on Friday how high the bids may have reached, but AFP reported that DirecTV had lodged an early-round bid that was in excess of $1billion. PCMag also reported that Yahoo had expressed interest to purchase Hulu, but this was prior to its $1.1 billion Tumblr deal, which may have left the web portal unable to follow through with any subsequent deal of this size.
However, with those deals nixed, it seems that investment by its owners might be the next move for the streaming service. While Hulu continues to battle over-the-top (OTT) rivals such as Netflix in the streaming video market, it reportedly generated more than $690 million revenue last year via its ad supported free service, and currently has around four million subscribers to its premium video service.
"Hulu has emerged as one of the most consumer friendly, technologically innovative viewing platforms in the digital era," added Disney chief executive Robert Iger in a statement. "As its evolution continues, Disney and its partners are committing resources to enable Hulu to achieve its maximum potential."
In May, Hulu announced via its blog that the Hulu Plus premium video service would be available on select Blu-ray players, and would soon be available for Roku set-top boxes, while last month the company announced that the service would be available for the iPad.
The Hulu Plus subscription service debuted in 2010.
The news that Hulu's owners backed out of the sale also comes just one day after Michael Eisner, former chairman of Walt Disney Co., told Bloomberg that the service would likely lose its next-day rights to TV shows that are currently offered under its present owners.
"If it is bought by a content-oriented production kind of company, it will then move from a company that is basically repeat broadcasting to original broadcasting," Eisner predicted, and added, "NBC, Fox, ABC are not going to give you a great deal anymore on their own content."