Will Time Warner Buy a $1.25 Billion-plus Stake in Hulu?
Time Warner is mulling buying a 25% stake in Hulu, in a deal that would value the streaming service at more than $5 billion, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
Hulu was founded in 2007 as a partnership between NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company. According to the report, the deal would likely have the companies each giving up a portion of their ownership stake to Time Warner, so all four parties would hold an equal quarter share.
Hulu was put up for sale earlier in the decade, but NBCU, Fox and Disney pulled it off the auction block in July 2013, simultaneously committing to invest $750 million in the venture to propel new growth.
Initially, Hulu’s prime selling point to viewers was that it offered viewers programming from ABC, Fox and NBC the day after it aired. But it has increased its outlay for both original and catalog content from $600 million in 2014 to $1.5 billion this year. In the process, it’s established itself as a worthy competitor to Netflix, with original series such as “Deadbeat,” “Difficult People” and “Casual” and a growing library of movies.
Last summer, Hulu landed a direct blow against Netflix when it outbid it for rights to programming from cable channel Epix. The deal brought a large collection of high profile films to Hulu — including “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “World War Z” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction — which previously had been on Netflix.
On Dec. 2, Hulu will debut “RocketJump: The Show,” which, like “Deadbeat” and “Casual,” comes from Lionsgate Television. Other upcoming Hulu originals includs “11/22/63” (premiering on Presidents Day 2016), a J.J. Abrams-produced mini-series based on the Stephen King novel of the same name about a teacher (James Franco) who travels back in time to present the JFK assassination; and “The Way,” a family drama from creator Jason Katims (“Parenthood”) starring Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), Michelle Monaghan (“Source Code”) and Hugh Dancy (“Hannibal”).