Disney, News Corp. ’finalizing’ plans for Hulu
Friday, March 15, 2013
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Disney and News Corp. are “finalizing” their future plans for Hulu as the online video streaming service prepares for the departure of CEO Jason Kilar.
Kilar gave an update on the service’s future in a blog post Thursday afternoon, announcing that Andy Forssell, Hulu’s senior vice president of content, will be interim CEO after Kilar leaves at the end of the month.
“Disney and News Corp. are currently finalizing their forward-looking plans with Hulu,” Kilar wrote. “Once the plans are finalized, a permanent decision will be made regarding the CEO position.”
The plans under consideration by the companies including putting Hulu back up for sale, according to a person familiar with the matter. Its owners tried to sell Hulu before but decided against it in 2011 following months of entertaining outside offers.
Now, the Walt Disney Co. is also mulling buying out News Corp.’s stake and vice versa, the person said.
At issue is whether Hulu should completely dedicate itself to the free streaming of TV shows with ads, or whether its value lies in paid subscriptions for viewers, the person said. Disney prefers a free service, while News Corp. prefers a paid model.
Another person familiar with the matter said all options for Hulu are on the table. Neither person was authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Disney and News Corp., the parent companies of broadcasters ABC and Fox, jointly own Hulu with NBC owner Comcast Corp., but have an awkward relationship with the service. Comcast is a silent partner in Hulu as a condition the U.S. government put on its purchase of NBCUniversal.
The broadcasters independently offer streaming of full TV shows on computers and apps, often for free, yet a paid portion of Hulu known as Hulu Plus requires a monthly $8 fee for many of the same shows. The fee is also required to access Hulu Plus on mobile devices.
Both Disney and News Corp. have said the service is losing money, despite it bringing in nearly $700 million in revenue in 2012. It had more than 3 million paying subscribers at the end of last year.
Hulu’s costs include licensing shows and paying for computer servers.
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