Hulu has announced on their official blog that the company’s equity holders (which includes NewsCorp and the Walt Disney Company) has decided to end negotiations with the various prospective buyers of the video-streaming website. Instead, they are opting to maintain ownership and attempt to grow the business in (apparently) the same manner as they have done so far.
As somebody who does the bulk of his movie-viewing on Hulu, I’m glad to hear this. Lots of names were being bandied about as companies looking to buy Hulu, and while some could be good or neutral (Google, Yahoo), some definitely gave me some concerns (Apple, DirecTV). DirecTV and Apple (through iTunes) are, in effect, in competition with the service, and I could easily see them trying to increase the monetization of the site through focusing entirely on the “Hulu Plus” premium service and cutting out the free service altogether. (Note there isn’t a “DirecTV free” and iTunes’ free selections are few, far between, and generally consist of trailers, making-of features, and other garbage.) For now, it looks like the status quo will hold. I don’t know if it’ll remain so indefinitely, as I don’t know how well the occasional-advertisement method works for Hulu’s free offerings. And I have noticed in recent months that while it used to be one commercial per break with the occasional two, two now seems to be the standard with the occasional three. Getting into TV territory there, guys, and that’s not really something I want to see. But I do understand the reasoning, even if I don’t like it, and a few commercials are a small price to pay for being able to watch for free.