As a pioneer in online streaming, Hulu has broken down barriers when it comes to rights and original programming. But the streaming giant has a new hill to climb — it’s looking for a new owner. Currently jointly owned by Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal, and News Corporation, the interested party with the highest bid to buy it will take home a brand-new streaming service that has the potential to enhance their existing business.
One of the most interested parties, as reported by The New York Times, is Time Warner Cable (TWC). TWC could have its eye on the service as a way to create a TV module that allows viewers to take their favorite shows with them on the go. One of Hulu’s major benefits is the ability to watch TV series as they are released — Netflix doesn’t acquire rights until a season ends completely. TWC could create a hub where subscribers have the benefit of both cable and network shows.
Another company interested in acquiring the streaming service is DirecTV. The satellite provider doesn’t currently carry the rights for series and shows. The company buying Hulu would acquire these rights. As the owner, DirecTV could offer the streaming service in its current packages to help lure more subscribers and talk current customers into pricier subscriptions.
AT&T has also shown interest in the streaming service and its current rights, though they haven’t officially commented on the possiblilty. Still, if the winning bidder, AT&T could add streaming services to their existing cell packages — $5 extra per month and you can watch your favorite series right on your smartphone or tablet, including both iPhones and iPads.
While the valuation of Hulu currently rests around the $1 billion mark, bid rumors have been firmly between $500 and $800 million. Formal bids are due this Friday, so a firmer number — and front runner — should be more apparent after the weekend. The new owner could bring a lot of benefits on board, the most important of which would be the capital to produce even more original TV shows, something that both Hulu and Netflix are working on. In return, the acquisition of an Internet-based streaming service sends a clear message to the world of online media: The purchasing company is looking to the future. It also doesn’t hurt that Hulu Plus, the paid subscription service, already has four million subscribers.
Let the bidding wars begin!
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