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The Bachelor: Hulu Style

Note: I orginally posted this entry to my Google+ account. I liked it so much, I decided to reblog it here. You can fol­low me on Google+ to see more stuff like this.

This has been a busy week for Hulu bids. Ten days after Bob Iger con­firmed that the cur­rent Hulu own­ers (which include Dis­ney, NBC Uni­ver­sal, Fox and a pri­vate equity group), Bloomberg reported that Hulu was look­ing to entice bid­ders by promis­ing 5 years of con­tent rights to pro­gram­ming from its cur­rent own­ers and a two-year exclu­siv­ity deal (with the excep­tion being the net­works own web­sites). In that same arti­cle, Bloomberg dis­cussed the num­ber of com­pa­nies cur­rently in talks to buy Hulu, men­tion­ing Microsoft, Google and Yahoo by name.


Today, the Wall Street Jour­nal adds Apple’s name to the mix. Frankly, of the four, I think Microsoft would actu­ally make the most sense — go with me here, it’s not about Microsoft as a Win­dows com­pany, it’s Microsoft who owns Xbox 360 and has already dis­cussed its abil­ity to turn that into the set-top box of the future.

Still, I think a Yahoo deal is untennable, I don’t think that Yahoo has the cap­i­tal to make a good bid. Google, well, Google has a fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing of con­tent and con­tent own­er­ship. Look at the fail­ures of cre­at­ing a real Google Music store. Look at how YouTube has flailed with entic­ing com­mer­cial part­ners, despite hav­ing such a large dis­tri­b­u­tion plat­form. I know we’re all in love with the big G on Google+, but Google fails so hard at the enter­tain­ment and set-top box space (Google TV is maybe one of the most shitty prod­ucts I’ve ever had the dis­plea­sure of using, sorry Google, it’s true. It sucks.), it would kill Hulu dead in the water. Not as much as Yahoo would, but still.

But Apple, Apple is inter­est­ing. If Apple were to buy Hulu, obvi­ously they would have yet another dis­tri­b­u­tion plat­form. The thing is, Hulu, and TV Every­where and sub­scrip­tion stream­ing as an idea, fun­da­men­tally goes against Apple’s approach to con­tent. Apple sells con­tent a la carte, not because it makes money that way (it really doesn’t), but because that con­tent sells devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

In the sub­scrip­tion stream­ing place, indeed, in the TV Every­where space, the iPad is the num­ber one most cov­eted tar­get. Full stop. That’s why Hulu was on the iPad and iPhone first. Same with Net­flix. Same with most cable com­pany apps, same with sec­ond screen apps. The iPad is hav­ing a huge impact on the way con­sumers watch TV. It’s insane. More­over, the engage­ment with the iPad, even with the same ser­vices avail­able else­where, is higher and bet­ter, which makes adver­tis­ers love it.

Why then, would Apple need Hulu? They already have a Hulu app in their App Store. Other than as a defen­sive move, I don’t see why Apple would buy the com­pany. Plus, some­thing tells me that a deal would include a pro­vi­sion that the new owner has to con­tinue to sup­port the grow­ing num­ber of Hulu Plus devices. That’s some­thing Apple doesn’t like doing.

Still, I’d rather see Apple own it than Google, because Apple at least knows how to work with con­tent com­pa­nies.

What I don’t under­stand is why we haven’t heard any­thing from Net­flix. Net­flix would be the per­fect owner. It would increase the library size and get access to previous-day con­tent. Netflix’s biggest hur­dle is in fresh con­tent. Hulu’s biggest strength is fresh con­tent. Win/Win.

I just fear that who­ever does buy Hulu won’t know how to keep it run­ning well. Hulu has sin­gle­hand­edly forced the major media con­glom­er­ates into the 21st cen­tury and to lose it would be a huge step back­ward.

Edited to Add: Ama­zon actu­ally is the buyer that makes the most sense and is the buyer I would most like to see. Ama­zon gets con­tent, Ama­zon gets mak­ing deals, Ama­zon gets how VOD works. It would be a great way to expand the Ama­zon Video on Demand model and offer addi­tional incen­tives for sub­scribers or Ama­zon Prime members.

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3 people have left comments

Lau­ren Fisher - Gravatar

Lau­ren Fisher said:

I can’t see Apple buy­ing Hulu here, I think it’s too much of a stretch from how they dis­trib­ute con­tent, plus were they to offer a ser­vice like this, I think it would be indige­nous to Apple. What I’d like to know is why Face­book weren’t in the mix?! To me it seems like the per­fect part­ner and they have a ready-made dis­tri­b­u­tion plat­form there. Now they’re busy with Net­flix, but it looks like a missed opportunity.

Posted on: July 27, 2011 at 3:56 pmQuote this Comment
Grey Hodge - Gravatar

Grey Hodge said:

One rea­son Net­flix might not be in the run­ning is they seem to be happy being a “back cat­a­log” to use their own words. They don’t want to become Hulu, accord­ing to their press state­ments. I, how­ever, think that’s just a polite face until they land current-content deals. This is sup­ported by the fact they’re pro­duc­ing their OWN con­tent now.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 at 6:45 pmQuote this Comment

JJ said:

The chances of Ama­zon par­tic­i­pat­ing in this are close to zero. Although your argu­ments for are true the big prob­lem is that Ama­zon is already going to lose money through Q3 this year and jus­ti­fy­ing another acqui­si­tion to the mar­ket while it’s con­tin­u­ing busi­nesses are doing so poorly will be difficult