Time Warner Inc. back in talks for piece of Hulu, wants to remove current-season episodes

Talks between Time Warner Inc. and Hulu about the media giant buying a stake in the SVOD service have reportedly been heating up.

The Wall Street Journal reports that TWX has resumed discussions that were earlier scuttled about the company acquiring a 25 percent interest in Hulu. Separately, the paper said that TWX, concerned about cord-cutting, is pushing to have current-season episodes of the shows it supplies to Hulu taken off the service.

Hulu is owned by 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and the Walt Disney Company. It's invested aggressively in content recently, and subscriptions are way up, growing from 6 million subscribers in 2014 to 10 million last year.

Time Warner Inc., meanwhile, has been closely examining how SVOD distribution of shows produced by assets like Turner Networks and Warner Bros. TV impacts linear TV ratings performance. Under intense pressure from shareholders to change the trajectory of the company's growth, TWX is looking to secure ownership of the SVOD pie, not just recoup licensing fees. 

Meanwhile, Hulu is different from other large SVOD platforms in that it streams current-season episodes of shows. TWX has not renewed its licensing deal with Hulu — it's operating on a series of temporary extensions. The media company is said to be closely considering whether it wants its in-season installments of its content to be viewed on the site. 

"If everybody in the industry is worried about Netflix driving cord-cutting, shouldn't they be just as worried about Hulu?" asked Nomura Securities analyst Anthony DiClemente, to WSJ.

The paper said pulling current-season episodes is not a condition of any investment TWX would make in Hulu.

For more:

- read this Wall Street Journal story

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