updated 08:00 pm EDT, Thu July 21, 2011
Apple included in early Hulu bidding rounds
Apple is one of those considering making a bid for Hulu, a pair of sources claimed Thursday. The company is supposedly in "early talks" that could lead to a buyout if all went well. It wasn't clear from Bloomberg tips what stage of the bidding process Apple had reached or how serious Apple's intentions were.
The iPad designer had previously never been mentioned in the talks, which have included many important companies including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and carriers like AT&T and Verizon. Apple may not have any privileged status in talks and could be one of those pitched on the possibilities of a deal in the first round rather than leaping in out of active interest into a second, more focused round.
Why Apple would bid for Hulu isn't immediately evident but could include either expansion or a defensive measure. Although it has one of the most popular pay-per-show stores for buying or renting TV episodes, it has had trouble competing with Hulu's mix of basic free streaming and its $8 full access subscription. Hulu's experience with a cloud-based service might also be useful even if Apple were to primarily bolster its existing service.
Buying Hulu could also be an attempt to steer users to iTunes by shutting down or limiting the service. Google, which has sometimes been one of Apple's main rivals in technology takeover bids, may want to get Hulu solely to prevent it from being used as an advantage for Android.
Apple could face complications if it made a bid. To keep Hulu's value, it would have to persuade Disney, NBCUniversal, and News Corp that they should keep their content deals active under Apple control. NBCUniversal also has content ownership rules it has to follow as a condition of its merger with Comcast.
Neither Apple nor Hulu has commented on the subject.