UPDATE: News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch and Disney CEO Bob Iger continue to express confidence in their decision, along with Comcast, to hold on to Hulu. “I think it’s a hell of a good business – or it can be,” Murdoch told our sister pub Variety today from the Allen and Co. Conference in Sun Valley, ID. He said the subscription service’s partners needed to get on the “same page” with regards to Hulu, and that Disney “wavered” but in the end Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast agreed not to sell it. “We ultimately concluded that, even though we had some very compelling offers on the table, the future of Hulu is bright,” Iger told Bloomberg. “And if the future of Hulu is bright we should hold on to it.” Also, Bloomberg reported Friday that Time Warner Cable remains in talks with the Hulu owners to buy a stake in the service.
PREVIOUS: Once again we see an effort to sell Hulu collapse. Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Comcast said today that they plan to keep it and supply $750M to accelerate its growth. “Disney and its partners are committing resources to enable Hulu to achieve its maximum potential,” Disney CEO Bob Iger says. 21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey adds that while the owners “had meaningful conversations with a number of potential partners and buyers, each with impressive plans and offers to match,” they decided “to continue to empower the Hulu team, in this fashion, to continue the incredible momentum they’ve built over the last few years.” Companies that kicked the tires included KKR & Co, Silver Lake Management/Hollywood agency WME, Guggenheim Digital, and Time Warner Cable (which was interested in an ownership stake, not the whole thing). But in the end there were just two serious bidders: Peter Chernin in a team with AT&T, and DirecTV. (Guggenheim’s believed to have made a low-ball offer.) Hulu’s owners were looking for someone to offer at least $1B. To attract that price, the selling studios would have had to commit to contributing some of their content to Hulu under its new owner. The companies want to keep as much control as they can over their movies and TV shows, though, which made negotiations complicated. The conflicting priorities also contributed to the collapse of an IPO, announced in 2010, and ended another attempt to sell the company in 2011. Now that the owners have decided again to keep Hulu, they’ll presumably use the additional cash to ramp up on the exclusive and original programming that has worked so well for Netflix. The companies say that their subscription service, Hulu Plus, has more than 4M subscribers, a number that more than doubled last year. The company had $690M in revenues last year.
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