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Dish, Google Close In on Hulu

Jeff Baumgartner

4:50 PM -- The chase for Hulu LLC is nearing an end, and Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) is out in front with a bid of $1.9 billion, according to Business Insider. (See Low-Ball Bids Jeopardize Hulu Auction .)

But don't count out Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which is said to still be in the mix with a $4 billion offer that reportedly comes with gobs of additional concessions, including access to longer content contracts. Although Google's bid is higher, there are some questions about whether it carries more actual raw value than Dish's. (See Google May Up the Ante for Hulu .)

A win by Google could give YouTube Inc. some much-needed premium video flair, but Hulu's platform and existing content deals could give Dish and its Blockbuster Inc. unit a clear path toward a subscription streaming service that would hit Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) head-on after Reed Hastings & Co. stubbed their toe on recent price hikes and decided to break off the company's DVD business. (See Netflix Does the Splits .)

Dish disappointed a few folks last week when it announced an add-on package (limited to Dish subs) that would bundle in Blockbuster's Web-based VoD and by-mail DVD rental service. Blockbuster's broadband focus is still fairly movie-heavy, so the addition of Hulu would help it expand its menu of TV shows and enable it to create a streaming subscription package. (See Dish Bundles Up Blockbuster .)

If Dish wins out (there's still a chance Hulu could pull it all back), it'll be just the latest chapter in the transformation of a company that knows it can no longer live on satellite TV alone.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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