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Hulu Being Courted For Purchase

July 4, 2011

Once dismissed as a “clown company” by YouTube, online video rival Hulu is being courted for possible purchase by YouTube’s owner Google.

Although still in preliminary talks and not fully committed in whether to sell, Hulu has been, “meeting with potential buyers, including Google, Microsoft Corp., and Yahoo, to drum up interest in a sale,” anonymous sources told the Los Angeles Times.

Hulu allows movies and shows from broadcasters ABC, Fox and NBC to be viewable online. The company is currently owned by the broadcasters’ parents, The Walt Disney Co., News Corp., and Comcast Corp., along with Providence Equity Partners.

An unsolicited offer prompted Hulu to begin looking for bidders early last week, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Plans to raise $200 million to $300 million in a public offering last year would have valued the company at about $2 billion. Hulu, however, backed out in favor of a focus on new subscription models by introducing a paid service to expand its offering to encompass TV shows from other programming partners, such as Viacom, Reuters reports.

Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar said in April the company was on track to nearly double its revenue to $500 million and bring its paid subscriber count to more than 1 million this year.

Hulu is popular with the public, giving viewers an easy and legal format for viewing many television shows both old and new. Owners of Hulu, however, are under pressure from cable and satellite companies that are reluctant to pay top dollar to carry programming offered for free on the Web.

Many programmers are also unwilling to put their shows on a free site with an advertising model that has yet to prove itself with premium video. Its largest online competitor is Netflix Inc, which has more than 20 million paying subscribers in the United States.

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