Is Hulu up for sale? CNBC and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that the streaming-video service is mulling an unsolicited bid from a company whose identity is not being disclosed. Hulu, which scrapped plans for an IPO last December, may find more interest among buyers looking to strengthen their hand in the burgeoning market for online video.
Unnamed sources quoted in the Journal story said Hulu’s board is weighing its options, which include “soliciting other potential interest in the company from larger companies and private-equity firms.” Hulu had been focusing on building out its library, a project that would likely demand new funding, as well as expanding its subscription business.
The report is launching a guessing game over who’s the bidder. Sources indicate it’s not Google. Microsoft, Apple and Netflix might have reasons to acquire an established video site with a robust library. Several media companies have a stake in Hulu, including Comcast, News Corp., and Disney as well as private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners.
The various owners are rarely on the same page when it comes to decision-making for Hulu’s future business practices. A buyout could consolidate control of Hulu under a single entity, which could help it focus its strategy better and allow the various media investors to pursue their own streaming strategies.
Rumors circulated last summer that Hulu was showing interest in going public — with in an initial public offering that valued the company at more than $2 billion — but in December the company appeared to back away from those plans.