Hulu, owners close in on content deal as animus wanes

It hasn't been a very congenial couple of month for Hulu, CEO Jason Kilar and the triumvirate of Hulu owners--News Corp., Comcast's NBCUniversal and Disney.

There have been hints that one, or more, of the owners might want to reduce the amount of content they push to the website, content deals have been made with other distributors like Netflix (by NBC and Disney), and there's been a fight about the price of Hulu Plus. And, of course, there was Kilar's very public Declaration of Independence, in which he declared the traditional broadcast and advertising business model a dinosaur, ticking off the owners and causing tongues to start wagging about Kilar's soon-to-be-shortened reign at Hulu.

But it appears all has been forgiven, as reports now say the content deals that launched Hulu in the first place are soon to be renewed.

With Fox's announcement that it planned to bundle ads for broadcast and online viewing and to increase ad loads, it stands to reason that a deal will soon be announced.

The big changes, according to The Wall Street Journal, involve delaying Hulu's access to shows for several days. They currently air 24 hours after they are initially broadcast.

Who that really serves in the end is anyone's guess, but the network folks must really be concerned about their broadcast audience fleeing to online options (Fox this week said it's seen an "erosion" of its 18 - 49 year old audience of 5.4 percent, adding that it hoped to capture some of it on Hulu and Fox.com).

Kilar recently said Hulu has had "productive conversations to extend our existing content agreements materially further with Disney, News Corp. and NBCUniversal," toeing the company line. Of course, Kilar's contract is up this summer.

The content deal hasn't been finalized, and even when it is, Hulu could be facing stiff competition as companies like Disney look for additional ways to monetize content.

As Disney CEO Bob Iger said during the company's earnings call last week: "We continue to look opportunistically at all of the new platforms that are entering the space. We don't intend to let a platform, even one that we own, necessarily get in the way of our ability to do that."

For more:
- see the WSJ article

Related articles:
Report: Hulu board moves could give CEO Kilar more say
CEO Kilar: Hulu headed for $500M revenues, 1M paid subs in 2011
Hulu CEO Kilar raps traditional TV's model, lays out 'future of TV'

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