Hulu owners back away from selling service

Hulu owners Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) aren't exactly playing a shell game, but they did play a little hide-and-seek this week when they put the service up for sale and just as quickly pulled it back.

The move grabbed the interest of would-be buyers who, it appears, might be interested if Hulu were placed back in the public purchase bin. A story in All Things D listed potential buyers--or at least potentially interested buyers. Those include Ross Levinsohn (today of Guggenheim Partners and, in 2011, part of Yahoo when that company made an effort to grab Hulu) as well as Yahoo and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN).

Of course, no one has made an official offer because News Corp. and Disney have not superglued a For Sale sign to the site. They've also failed to agree on what model the service should take--advertising or subscription--after Jason Kilar, Hulu's CEO, finishes his final few days in that position this week. Also adding to the intrigue is how the two primary owners behave without the presence of Providence Equity Partners, which sold its stake in the online video purveyor late last year.

Creating even more to the confusion is that either partner could buy out the other one. "[W]hile both have talked about buying out the other partner, those discussions are still 'fluid,' according to people familiar with the negotiations," the All Things D report continued.

Another big potential stumbling block is content--and that's a block about as big as a pyramid, because neither Disney nor News Corp. has ever been willing to offer long-term deals for their content. Anyone who bought Hulu would, therefore, be in the position of having to renegotiate for content for a site that lives off content.

For more:
All Things D had this story

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