Google Inc. is one of about a dozen firms to potentially buy online video site Hulu, a person familiar with the matter suggested Friday. As the owner of YouTube, it would be a strategic buy for the Silicon Valley technology company.
Hulu has begun showing its financial information to many prospective bidders, but it’s too early to declare a front-runner, said the person.
The online video service began searching for bidders early last week after an unsolicited offer prompted Hulu’s board to look for other interested parties.
Hulu streams movies and TV shows from broadcasters ABC, Fox and NBC to personal computers and a range of Web-connected devices. The company is ran by the broadcasters’ parents, The Walt Disney Co., News Corp., Comcast Corp. and Providence Equity Partners. In February, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said Hulu will have 1 million paying customers by the end of the year and gain nearly $500 million, up from $263 million in 2010. He has said the company is profitable.
Last year Google attempted to launch a service that streamed Web content onto television sets, Google TV, but it was met with a blockade by broadcasters. People using personal computers can see recent shows on Hulu for free with ads, but those trying to access them through Google TV aren’t able to. Hulu does not allow viewers to watch its shows on mobile devices or through television sets unless users subscribe $8 a month to Hulu Plus.
Even if Google were to buy Hulu, the right to continue to stream content from its current owners isn’t available. The broadcasters insist Mountain View, and Google must approach a new agreement to license the content to be used in that way.
But as the press time, both Google and Hulu don’t comment on this matter.