Will Apple Buy Hulu?

IPTV as an industry is heating up! Now there is a rumor that Apple may be negotiating to buy Hulu!

Apple May Bid for Hulu Online Video Service

“Apple Inc. (AAPL), with $76.2 billion in cash and securities on its books, is considering making a bid for the Hulu online video service, two people with knowledge of the auction said.

Apple, the world’s second-most-valuable company, is in early talks that may lead to an offer for Hulu, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Hulu would give Apple a new subscription service and represent a possible challenge to Netflix Inc. (NFLX) Hulu’s media- company owners, Walt Disney Co. (DIS), News Corp. (NWSA) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBC Universal, are offering suitors a five-year extension of program rights, including two years of exclusive access, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week.

‘Part of the ecosystem of Apple’s future is to include more video,’ said Scott Sutherland, Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst in San Francisco who recommends buying the stock. ‘It’s something they are focused on.’

Meredith Kendall, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Hulu, declined to comment, as did Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple.

Hulu’s price tag could exceed $2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and SNL Kagan.”

Although, Peter Kafka at “All Things D” seems to disagree with this rumor!

Don’t Hold Your Breath on That Apple Hulu Deal

He says that even though Apple is considering it, others are more likely buyers:

“And there are still some smart folks who think the pool of real bidders for the site may end up being very, very shallow. A quick guide to some of the usual suspects:

Apple could certainly afford to buy Hulu at any price, since its ever-growing cash pile is now at $76 billion. And the company has already shown an interest in the subscription TV business that Hulu Plus sells — recall its efforts to cobble together a $30-a-month video service. But the free ad-supported business that makes up Hulu’s core is pretty alien to Apple.

Industry folks I talk to think Google would love to get its hands on Hulu, and none of them think the company will make an offer. The search giant is already facing a wide-ranging antitrust probe, and adding an exclusive deal for three of the four broadcast TV guys to the mix seems like a nonstarter.

Amazon is a logical buyer: Adding Hulu would make a lot of sense for a company that’s trying to jump-start its online video business. The problem here is that content sellers say that Amazon seems wholly uninterested in paying anything close to a premium for online video.

Lots of people in and outside of Yahoo would like Carol Bartz to buy Hulu, so this one seems most logical. The question is whether Yahoo’s board will approve what would be a Hail Mary deal.

Other possible homes for the site include Verizon and AT&T, as well as Liberty Media/DirectTV. The last one has particular appeal to some folks I talk to, who see Hulu as a natural extension of the satellite TV company’s existing business plan.”

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