Today’s Must-Read Report: Two of Hulu’s Owners–Disney and News Corp.–Considering Pulling Some Content From Hulu; Talk of Service Becoming an ‘Online Cable Operator’

Jan 27, 2011  •  Post A Comment

"Fox Broadcasting owner News Corp. and ABC owner Disney are contemplating pulling some free content from Hulu, say people familiar with the matter. The media companies are also moving to sell more programs to Hulu competitors that deliver television over the Internet, including Netflix Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc."

So reports The Wall Street Journal. [Note: The WSJ is behind a firewall and may charge you to see this story.]

The article, by Sam Schechner and Jessica E. Vascellaro, adds, "In what would be a major shift in direction, Hulu management has discussed recasting Hulu as an online cable operator that would use the Web to send live TV channels and video-on-demand content to subscribers, say people familiar with the talks. The new service, which is still under discussion, would mimic the bundles of channels now sold by cable and satellite operators, the people said."

The authors of the WSJ piece also spoke to Bruce Rosenblum, who runs the TV division of one of the major studios, Warner Bros, who told them, "It remains unclear what the business model is for Hulu. At some point, if enough people turn off cable, then you’ve got a complete disruption of the business model." 

The WSJ piece is a detailed feature story on the debate within Hulu by its owners and the entire  article (link above) is clearly TVWeek’s pick as the Must-Read story of the day.


  1. Television is changing. Over the next 15 years cable subscriptions beyond basic will drop about 25%. People want their programming under their terms. Xbox started this with the male under 30 set and it has grown. Hulu just signed a deal with Xbox. Amazon has also been doing this for years. You can watch a lot of your favorite shows through both companies and save considerably over the cost of premium cable.

  2. Programming on your own terms is one thing. Destroying the business model by giving out content for free or next to nothing is another.
    Networks need to maintain a profit to offset the costs of high-profile programs. If a show doesn’t generate revenue, it gets canceled… and if too many people are leaching a network’s content for free online, that network will ultimately go out of business.
    Face it, despite how many Netflix rentals or $2 iTunes downloads a show gets, the bulk of revenue still comes from the CPMs associated with the linear feed. Good to see networks owning Hulu are finally making people pay for their product – it will only lead to better programming for viewers down the road with money for big-name talent, programs with strong production values, or simply a larger development budget to create more daring or complex shows.

  3. I don’t see how Hulu is to blame for putting Grey’s Anatomy on its site when the same program is fed from abc.com and is likewise available free via the abc iPad “app”. I like the easy aggregation, and the access to oldtimers like Kojak and the Rockford Files, etc., on demand so if so inclined one can really indulge a bender of a given show.
    On the other hand, having tried the hulu-plus set-up, I was surprised there were what felt like more commercials on plus than on the free hulu. People like me don’t want to be punished for ante’ing up and paying a subscription fee! What the hell, “business modelers”?!!!

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