Disney buys into Hulu

Walt Disney Company is to take a stake in on-demand Web-video company Hulu. Currently Hulu has NBC Universal and News Corp as its partner investors, alongside Providence Equity. Hulu, at least in the US, is now generating more video downloads than Yahoo, and is chasing YouTube and Fox Interactive (which includes MySpace) in terms of popularity. Hulu launched in March last year.

The Disney move will see content from ABC-Disney ‘airing’ on Hulu, as well as programming from ABC-Family, SOAPnet and The Disney Channel. There will also be material drawn from the Disney archives.

"From our landmark iTunes deal to our pioneering decision to stream ad supported shows on our ABC.com player, Disney has sought to meet the constantly evolving viewing habits of our consumers, and today's Hulu announcement is the next important step in that ongoing journey," said Bob Iger, president/CEO of The Walt Disney Company, in a statement. "Disney and Hulu share a focus on delivering the highest-quality entertainment experience and we look forward to working with Hulu to build value for our consumers, our brands and our shareholders."

The deal means that Hulu users (in North America) will be able to see full-length episodes of shows like Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and Private Practice. It will also feature ABC Family content like Greek, and daytime series like General Hospital and The View. ABC will also add episodes of "classic" shows, such as Hope and Faith, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and Dancing with the Stars.