The Hulu sale may be at risk amidst recent developments, including low-ball bids, a lack of commitment to sell by Hulu’s owners, and digital rights complications. The premium online video service is a joint venture between content providers Fox, Disney, and NBC Universal and has so far seen interest from Yahoo, Google, Amazon, DirecTV, and Dish Network among others.
Another round of bids are expected next week with current bids reportedly ranging from as low as $500 million to as much as $2 billion. Google has been said to be willing to spend big in return for extended rights to content, although it’s not been confirmed whether they have already submitted a bid. Yahoo was one of the top runners, but its recent implosion with the firing of CEO Carol Bartz has it busy dealing with its own issues.
It’s believed that there’s a wide gap between the bids offered and what Hulu owners are willing to accept. Perhaps with Google’s significant figure on the table, Hulu owners are becoming more adamant about their asking price. But bidders are also questioning what they would get for their money, hence the sale process has overall slowed down.
Additionally, the issues of digital rights to the content is complicated. Hulu’s demands on content rights has been undermined by NBC’s recent offering of programs for free via an iPhone and iPad app without requiring cable subscription. The move may have also conflicted with Fox’s strategy of offering the latest TV shows to only paid subscribers.