Time Warner Cable Inc. and another unnamed pay-TV provider are considering bids for at least a minority stake in Hulu LLC, the popular Internet video service currently owned by Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast Corp., according to a Bloomberg report.
Time Warner Cable has declined to comment on the speculation.
Taking a stake in Hulu would expand Time Warner's reach beyond its existing 25-million-home cable footprint. It would also open up a channel for online video revenues, something that could help counter the ongoing decline in the company’s traditional video services income: Time Warner Cable shed 119,000 basic cable subscribers during the first quarter. (See Time Warner Video Subs Slide.)
On the Internet video front, Time Warner has already shown its progressive side with mobile app updates that allow users to stream select TV programming while outside the home.
Taking a stake in Hulu would significantly expand the company's on-demand library online, and potentially give Time Warner subscribers an added service as part of a broadband and/or cable TV bundle.
While no figures were cited in the Bloomberg report, another bid last month from former News Corp. President Peter Chernin, who helped found Hulu in 2007, rolled in at "around $500 million."
Additionally, Bloomberg has referenced unnamed sources as saying that Yahoo Inc., Amazon and Guggenheim Partners have also expressed interest in the online video site.
Hulu, which reported revenue of almost $700 million in 2012 and recently announced that its Hulu Plus premium service surpassed 4 million subscribers, has courted suitors for several years. But, even with an offer as high as $4 billion from Google in 2011, its three squabbling owners have never pulled the trigger on a sale. (See Hulu: No Sale.)
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable