Disney to buy into Hulu


As has been rumored, Disney will to join NBC Universal, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners as an equity owner of Hulu. ABC content will be available on Hulu as part of Disney’s deal to acquire nearly 30% of the video-aggregation site. Disney’s ownership stake will be about equal to that of other participating networks NBC and Fox.

Remember, Disney Media Networks and YouTube just announced an agreement (4/1) which includes the launch of multiple ad-supported channels featuring short-form content from ESPN and the Disney/ABC Television Group.

The agreement will enhance Hulu’s programming line-up through the expanded online distribution of Disney’s most popular current and library primetime series and library feature films. In particular, full-length episodes of hit current and library programs like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Private Practice, Ugly Betty, Scrubs, Greek, Hope and Faith, Less Than Perfect, Wizards of Waverly Place, Phineas and Ferb, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, General Hospital, The View and The Secret Life of the American Teenager will soon be streamed on Hulu on an ad-supported basis.

“From our landmark iTunes deal to our pioneering decision to stream ad supported shows on our ABC.com player, Disney has sought to meet the constantly evolving viewing habits of our consumers, and today’s Hulu announcement is the next important step in that ongoing journey,” said Robert Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “Disney and Hulu share a focus on delivering the highest-quality entertainment experience and we look forward to working with Hulu to build value for our consumers, our brands and our shareholders.”

As an equity partner, Disney will have three seats on the Hulu Board that will be held by Iger; Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group; and Kevin Mayer, executive vice president, Corporate Strategy, Business Development & Technology. All other current directors from News Corp, NBC Universal and Providence will remain on the Hulu board.

Following the closing, content available to Hulu users will include:

Full-length episodes of ABC primetime programs like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Samantha Who?, Scrubs, Private Practice and popular late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live
Full-length episodes of hit ABC Family series like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Greek
Popular series from ABC Daytime and SOAPnet like General Hospital and The View
Classic series from ABC’s library like Hope and Faith, Less Than Perfect, Commander in Chief, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Dancing with the Stars
Select hit programs from Disney Channel like Wizards of Waverly Place and Phineas and Ferb which can be easily accessed from a new DISNEY location in the Channel section of Hulu.com
Popular library titles from The Walt Disney Studios
Short-form content including webisodes, sneak peeks and episode recaps from ABC Entertainment, ABC Family and SOAPnet

RBR/TVBR observation: This reminds us of the big carriage deals signed with major cable MSOs in years past. The best part about deals such as this is that these competing networks in the traditional television arena are perfectly happy to combine resources when it comes to putting content on the Internet/mobile. Let’s face it—this is where eyeballs—and advertisers—are going and the most “gravitated-to” sites win the race.