Hulu's future: IPO revisited, an additional media owner?

Hulu's owners last week ditched plans to sell the video aggregation site. Then news followed that Hulu's IPO, shelved in December, might resurface, and now there is news that a new media owner might be added to the troika of media companies already in control.

Bloomberg Friday reported some analysts believed Hulu's IPO, once rumored to be looking for $2 billion from investors, would help it compete with Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), and keep control in the hands of its owners, News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA), Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA) NBCUniversal and Disney (NYSE: DIS).

"Are the owners willing to fund that themselves, which is a less expensive source of capital but comes with more risk?" said Laura Martin, a Needham & Co. analyst in an interview. "Or will they turn to the public markets, that's the question."

She said an IPO in the next two years would allow Hulu to keep CEO Jason Kilar on board as well. "If not," she said, "I think they could lose him." Kilar is widely acknowledged to have been a critical guiding hand on the Hulu tiller, clashing with the media owners over pricing, content deals and the overall direction of the company. Pundits say the companies have belatedly come to recognize his importance.

The Wall Street Journal this week suggested that Hulu might get one more owner to the team, saying Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), which owns programmers HBO, TNT and TBS, among others, could add some cash to the pot.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this WSJ article

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