Disney Takes Equity Stake in Hulu

Three of the four big broadcast networks are going to be putting their TV shows on the same popular website. ABC's parent company, Disney, is joining Fox and NBC at Hulu dot com.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Meanwhile Disney is teaming up with one of the most popular sites for watching TV on the Internet. The parent company of ABC TV is buying a stake in Hulu.com. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has more.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: Actor Alec Baldwin has been flogging Hulu relentlessly on several major network channels.

(Soundbite of commercial for Hulu.com)

Mr. ALEC BALDWIN (Actor): Hulu beams TV directly to your portable computing devices anytime, anywhere, for free.

GRIGSBY BATES: Fox and NBC already use Hulu to allow viewers to check out shows like "House" and "Heroes". Now Disney, which owns ABC, has also decided to dance with Hulu. It's brining several of its family shows from the Disney channel and primetime hits like "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Ugly Betty."

(Soundbite of TV Show, "Ugly Betty")

Ms. AMERICA FERRERA (Actress): (As Betty Suarez) I put out a spread in the conference room - cheese, olives, salami, not the kind that makes you gassity(ph).

Unidentified Man: Betty, that was one time. It was a fluke.

BATES: Joe Adalian, deputy editor of the industry publication TV Week says ABC was the first network to get into on-demand broadcasting with what was then a state-of-the-art media player - which was great, until Hulu.

Mr. JOE ADALIAN (Deputy Editor, TV Week): I do think it's a lot easier to use Hulu that has ABC.com although I think ABC.com is good product.

BATES: Adalian says the networks are searching for new delivery platforms because they know that communal TV watching is an anachronism.

Mr. ADALIAN: Well, you may still get some big event shows like a "Lost" for example that people feel that they need to watch as soon as possible when it airs. The idea of just simply giving people one time to watch a show is dead.

BATES: So Disney on the other networks are banking on this. Just as TV viewers make go to Hulu to watch shows, surfing Hulu may introduce new viewers to network TV shows - with lots of commercials. So may be, Alec Baldwin wasn't joking.

(Soundbite of commercial from Hulu.com)

Mr. BALDWIN: Hulu - an evil plot to destroy the world, enjoy.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

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