Friday, July 22, 2011

Apple Said to Consider a Bid for Hulu

Apple Inc. is in talks to potentially bid for video-streaming service Hulu, according to a person close to the situation.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the matter.

An acquisition of Hulu could bolster Apple's iTunes store, which provides videos users can rent or buy, and help it compete with Netflix Inc. Hulu offers a subscription streaming service. It also brings in revenue from ads that accompany content it streams to users free-of-charge.

Hulu, whose owners include The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast Corp., started presenting its financial information to interested bidders late last month, after an unsolicited offer prompted its board to look for other offers.

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.
Apple typically doesn’t make large acquisitions, Sutherland said in an interview. Its biggest purchase of a company was the $400 million spent for NeXT Software Inc., the 1996 deal that returned Steve Jobs to the company, he said.

Instead of a subscription, Apple’s iTunes media store offers TV shows and movies for rental or purchase. Current- season shows can be rented for 99 cents and high-definition films rent for $4.99. Hulu, which inserts ads into programs, offers limited free episodes and more expansive access with Hulu Plus for $7.99 a month.
“Hulu would add a new element to their arsenal from a streaming and subscription standpoint,” said Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Co. in San Francisco who also recommends investors buy Apple shares.
Apple rose $1.12 to $388.41 at 9:31 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have climbed 20 percent this year before today.
Hulu Plus is available on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It’s also accessible through Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s XBox video-game console, Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 and on phones using Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android operating system, including the HTC Thunderbolt.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger told reporters July 6 at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, that Hulu’s owners are committed to selling the company. Jobs is Burbank, California-based Disney’s biggest shareholder.
Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners, bankers for Hulu, have elicited interest from Google, Yahoo Inc., AT&T Inc. (T) and other companies, people said earlier. Microsoft dropped out of the bidding, a person with knowledge of the matter said this week.
Yahoo would pay up to $2 billion for Hulu with four or five years of exclusive access to current TV shows and older movies, the Business Insider website reported this week, citing a person it didn’t identify.
The extended program rights, similar to terms Hulu’s owners considered as part of an earlier share sale, and other financial data are included in materials provided to suitors who sign a non-disclosure agreement, two people said. Inc. (AMZN), based in Seattle, is unlikely to bid without guarantees of access to shows, one person said.

No comments:

Post a Comment