Hulu's Future Depends On Which Company Buys It

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Multiple companies — from Time Warner Cable to Yahoo — are said to be interested in acquiring Hulu. The site streams TV shows and movies online. Some shows on Hulu are free, but paid subscribers get access to more programming.


To other news, now Hulu is on the auction block. A number of companies and investors are vying to buy the popular video streaming site which features shows like "Family Guy" and "Saturday Night Live."

NPR's Dan Bobkoff has more.

DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: There are two ways Hulu could go: it could be the future of television, watching the shows you want when you want them. Or, it could just end up a supplement to the traditional cable television we've had for years. Which path it takes depends on who buys Hulu.

Time Warner Cable and DirecTV are among those said to be competing. Conceivably, either could bundle Hulu with their TV packages, making it less appealing to those who have cancelled cable.

On the other side, Yahoo is reportedly interested as well. It's looking to compete with Google, which owns YouTube. Bids have also come in from private equity firms, including Providence Equity, which is backing an offer from a former News Corporation executive.

Brett Sappington is with the market research firm Parks Associates.

BRETT SAPPINGTON: Depending on who acquires it, that could change the type of content that Hulu specializes in. It could also change the balance of what content is free and what content is paid for.

BOBKOFF: Some shows on Hulu are free, but paid subscribers get access to more programming. Hulu is currently controlled by the News Corporation, which owns Fox, and the Walt Disney Company. Comcast also has a stake.

Hulu won't say if it's profitable, but it generated nearly $700 million in revenue last year. It has four million paid subscribers, and is among the 15 most popular websites.

Dan Bobkoff, NPR News.

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