The new owners of Hulu are … the old owners of Hulu.
According to a collective press release, Disney (DIS), 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and Comcast’s (CMCSA) NBCUniversal have decided to take the online streaming site down from sale. This marks a sudden end to a months-long bidding war as companies clawed at each other to get at Hulu’s content.
The press release is bad news for companies like Yahoo (YHOO) and DirecTV (DTV) that had been racing to acquire Hulu in recent months. Yahoo had been on a string of acquisitions, and Hulu’s diverse content offering would have added to the company’s range. And DirecTV hoped that buying the company would help protect it from the burgeoning online content threat — or maybe even put it ahead of competitor Dish Network (DISH).
Offers were reportedly reaching $1 billion and beyond. But the Cerberus of companies behind Hulu decided that they were the best shepherds for the site. Chase Carey, Fox’s president and chief operating officer, said in today’s press release:
“We had meaningful conversations with a number of potential partners and buyers, each with impressive plans and offers to match, but with 21st Century Fox and Disney fully aligned in our collective vision and goals for the business, we decided to continue to empower the Hulu team, in this fashion, to continue the incredible momentum they’ve built over the last few years.”
Hulu’s premium subscribership has reached 4 million members, according to the press release, which is well below the nearly 30 million who subscribe to Netflix (NFLX). But Hulu has some advantages — such as airing current seasons of select TV shows — that, when combined with the expected growth of online streaming, give the company good growth prospects.
So good, in fact, that Disney, Fox and NBCUniversal wouldn’t give it up.
Adam Benjamin is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.