Skip to main content

Hulu pulls plug on sale after months of bidding, owners invest $750 million in company

Hulu pulls plug on sale after months of bidding, owners invest $750 million in company

Share this story

Streaming video site Hulu won't be sold after all. 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, and The Walt Disney Company announced today that they will be keeping their existing shares in Hulu and contributing a combined $750 million to help grow the site. Hulu was put up for sale earlier this year, and potential buyers reportedly included Yahoo, DirecTV, and Time Warner Cable among others. The company itself was started as a joint venture between media studios, and it's been a mainstay of the online TV market for years, though it's never approached the heights of Netflix. The cash infusion will help open up Hulu's options, though the studios will eventually get that money back in the form of licensing payments.

Hulu was considered an attractive pick: at least three prospective buyers were reportedly offering over $1 billion. However, the owners clearly either didn't receive bids that met their expectations or saw greater future value. A tweet from reporter Brian Stelter quotes a source saying that "the equity value in the long run outstrips the sale value." The company has seen significant turnover in past months. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and CTO Rich Tom stepped down in March, after which the company was put up for sale. There's also ongoing tension between Hulu and its content-creating parent companies over advertising control and rights to TV shows. That said, Hulu's owners have made and then called off similar plans once before: the company was set to be sold off in 2011, but Disney and others decided to retain control, citing a "unique and compelling strategic value."

Update: Sources have told us that Hulu still holds that same unique and compelling value, and that its owners are committed to scaling it up. Jessica Lessen, meanwhile, reports that Rupert Murdoch (founder of 21st Century Fox) never wanted to sell Hulu off at all. The cancellation, he said, was a result of the companies getting "on the same page ... Disney wavered but now are very pleased." Murdoch also told Variety that Hulu held strong future value: "I think it's a hell of a good business — or it can be."