Most Assonant Idea We’ve Heard in a While: Yahoo Wants Hulu

Jun 22, 2011  •  Post A Comment

"Yahoo Inc. recently approached Hulu to discuss a possible acquisition of the popular online video service, according to a person with knowledge of the matter," report Dawn C. Chmielewski and Ben Fritz at the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog.

The article also notes, "Hulu has not taken any traditional steps associated with a sale such as retaining an investment bank to field offers. However, it is currently undergoing a restructuring that would give Chief Executive Jason Kilar and his executive team greater autonomy while imposing new rules on the availability of television content."

Owners of Hulu include News Corp., Providence Equity and The Walt Disney Company. Comcast is also an owner, as it acquired the stake previously held by NBC Universal when it recently took over that company. As the Times article says, Comcast "has no say in the operations of the company. It forfeited NBCUniversal’s Hulu board seats and role in management as part of the conditions of government approval of Comcast’s acquisition of the entertainment company."

The Times also writes, "Hulu, which streams television shows on the Internet, has been the subject of intense speculation about its future. The company, whose owners include media giants News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., has been struggling to find a balance between the desires of consumers to watch shows free online and its owners’ interest in protecting the value of their programming. Late last year, it launched a paid subscription service to complement its free offerings."

Interestingly, The Wall Street Journal wrote, before the Times article, "Web-video site Hulu LLC is weighing whether to sell itself, according to people familiar with the matter, its latest strategic crossroads as the fight over distributing TV content online intensifies. Hulu’s board is considering the move after a potential buyer for the company approached it with an unsolicited offer, these people said. The identity of the buyer couldn’t be learned." [Please note that the WSJ is behind a pay-wall and you may be asked to pay to read this article.]

In the Times story, while it insists that Yahoo recently approached Hulu about a possible acquisition, it says that the offer the Journal refers to may or may not be an offer from Yahoo. This is how the Times phrases it: "On Tuesday afternoon [June 21, 2011], word of the unsolicited offer spread and was subsequently confirmed by people close to the company. It is not known whether the offer came from Yahoo or another entity. Spokespersons for Yahoo, Hulu, News Corp. and Comcast declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment."

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