Hulu owners pull plug on $2BN sale

Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 14-10-2011

Hulu has joined fellow over the top (OTT) provider Netflix in the corporate damage stakes after formally announcing the end of its much-heralded auction.
In a terse statement announcing their decision to terminate the sale process, Hulu's owners, which include News Corp., Walt Disney Co., Comcast/NBCUniversal and private equity firm Providence Equity Partners said: “Since Hulu holds a unique and compelling strategic value to each of its owners, we have terminated the sale process and look forward to working together to continue mapping out its path to even greater success. Our focus now rests solely on ensuring that our efforts as owners contribute in a meaningful way to the exciting future that lies ahead for Hulu.”

The news comes only days after prospective bidder Yahoo! said that it was officially out of the running to bid for the online TV site, supposedly leaving DISH Network, Google and Amazon as last men standing. DISH and Google were reported to have made have offers on the table, for $1.9 billion and a reported $4 billion, respectively, both lower than the $2 billion for two years of exclusive content rights that Hulu was said to be hoping for.

Hulu is thought to have in excess of a million subscribers each paying $7.99 a month and Hulu expects to make around $500 million by the end of 2011. However the auction bid had plagued with rumours that it was going to be grounded by a gap in bids and what the site's owners were willing to accept.

The news is a big blow as up until now the company had been enjoying a markedly successful 2011. In the latest comScore Video Metrix service, Hulu was found to have exhibited at 3.4 hours, the highest average engagement for all online video services in the US, delivered the highest duration of video ads at 409 million minutes and gained the highest number of video ad impressions at 963 million. And, significantly Hulu made its long awaited move outside the US with the launch of a new subscription OTT video service in Japan.