On Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, “Bankers for Hulu LLC, the video-streaming service, have met with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft as the company explores a sale, people familiar with the process said.”
Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners have reached out to 10 to 12 potential bidders, including AT&T Inc., said two people who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
A sale may bring more than $2 billion to Hulu’s owners, which include Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and SNL Kagan.
People familiar with the matter said that this process was initiated by a potential suitor who approached Hulu as early as June 21.
L.A. Times reports, “As a streaming media company, Hulu’s in a great position with content owners, as it’s owned by content owners. Other outfits have historically had trouble striking compelling content deals—Netflix being the notable exception, although it had to pay tremendous licensing fees.
Access to Hulu’s content lineup would be a pretty major win for either Google or Microsoft, both of whom are trying to claw their way into people’s living rooms with devices developed for consuming TV and movies via the web—Google with Google TV, and Microsoft with its Xbox 360 console.
Microsoft may actually have the best shot at scooping up Hulu, as an acquisition by Google could raise some eyebrows when it comes to potential anti-trust issues: Google already owns YouTube, which is the most popular streaming video site on the internet and it’s got the FTC breathing down its neck over questions about whether it’s wielding too much power on the Web.
That being said, these apparent discussions are still in the “preliminary” stages, reports the L.A. Times and, again, they’re merely taking place “as Hulu’s owners weigh whether to sell the site.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, “It’s not clear how much discussion is happening behind the scenes, and it is fully possible that, in the end, Hulu may not even accept the bid. As far as financials go, Hulu says it’s on track to generate $ 500 million in revenue this year.
Russell Holly of Geek.com is excited about the reported Hulu sale and says, “ All three of these companies – Google, Yahoo! And Microsoft – would benefit enormously from a partnership or purchasing Hulu from Newscorp. Obviously, Google would be able to do a better job serving ads than the abysmal Hulu Ad Tailor service, but attached to a Google TV could we start to see interactive ad experiences like we have seen on TiVo? Would we see Hulu blending with YouTube’s own TV show service, or even their live streaming capabilities? The sky is the limit, and there’s so little known about the situation as it stands right now.”
Elisa Schreiber, a spokeswoman for Hulu, declined to comment, as did Chris Gaither, a spokesman for Mountain View’s Google. Kim Rubey, with Sunnyvale’s Yahoo; Lisa Tryall of Microsoft; and Brad Burns of AT&T also declined to comment.