Just a few months ago, it looked like the sale of Hulu was a foregone conclusion. A variety of potential buyers — including Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) — definitely were interested in purchasing this fast-growing online video company. But last week, Hulu was pulled off the market. And maybe it was for the best.
Any sale would involve navigating some hairy issues. For one, Hulu is controlled by a consortium of media companies: Disney (NYSE:DIS), News Corp. (NYSE:NWS) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) — each with CEOs with huge egos and differing views on the major industry trends.
Also, a transaction would involve a complicated agreement regarding content, which has been soaring in value. Just look at Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Last week the company agreed to shell out $1 billion on a four-year deal for the shows from the CW network — and the deal isn’t even exclusive. In other words, why would the owners of Hulu want to essentially give away their content? Couldn’t they benefit more by having control over it?
What’s more, it looks like Hulu’s owners now realize that — despite their concerns — online video is becoming a key strategy opportunity. It is an effective way to get user feedback, improve marketing and enhance loyalty.
But so far, it looks like Hulu is an exception. The company’s premium service is expected to reach 1 million users this year. And Hulu also has been aggressive with partnerships. The most notable include deals with Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and Univision.
And according to a report from Bloomberg, it looks like Hulu’s owners are thinking about an IPO. An influx of capital certainly would help it pursue more content partnerships. And by going public, Hulu’s stock could be used to pull off acquisitions.
An offering easily would take a year or so. But in light of Hulu’s control of high-quality content — such as from ABC, NBC and Fox — and its growing user base, an IPO looks like a good option.