July 9 - Hulu may not yet make a profit- but it has content and subscribers that are attracting a wide range of bidders. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Who knew day-old TV would be such a hot commodity? The list of bidders for streaming video service Hulu- some willing to pay more than a billion dollars for the not-yet-profitable company- is growing. They now include: Direct TV. A partnership between AT&T and a group led by former News Corp head Peter Chernin. And Guggenheim Digital Media bidding jointly with KKR- according to the Wall Street Journal. Yahoo has also thrown its hat in the ring- as have some private equity firms. But Morningstar's Michael Corty says Time Warner Cable's offer for a stake in Hulu is the best option: SOUNDBITE: MICHAEL CORTY, SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST, MORNINGSTAR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the Time Warner Cable bid is interesting to me only because it would be bidding for a piece of the business with the content owners remaining owners as partners with them. So that one makes the most sense just in terms of the importance of the content and having those players still own Hulu is important." The key there- is content. Hulu was formed back in 2007 by a group of broadcasters- giving it an edge when it came to programming. But those broadcasters- Disney, News Corp and NBCUniversal- now disagree on how to run the company. They also now have more places to sell their content than they did when Hulu started- including Netflix and Amazon. And while the deal could give bidders an entry into the streaming video business- and in some cases add subscribers to their existing businesses- Corty has a stern warning: SOUNDBITE: MICHAEL CORTY, SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST, MORNINGSTAR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "If you own the content you have the negotiating power. So to take the owners of content out of the picture for Hulu there is a lot of questions on whether whatever existing agreements are currently in place- how those would be renewed and how other distribution agreements would go in the future, if the current owners were no longer involved in Hulu as a direct owner." In fact it was disputes over content guarantees as well as price that derailed a previous attempt to sell Hulu back in 2011.