Now that the Hulu non-sale is over(ish), is this the perfect time for CBS to jump on board? Or is it actually the worst time?
From the start, CBS has resisted Hulu in a big way. Even after original network partners—pre Comcast NBC and Fox—enticed Disney to become both an investment partner and distributor, CBS has conspicuously held out.
Finally by the start of this year, the network agreed to stream some content on Hulu, but only old stuff. You still can't watch last night's The Big Bang Theory or Elementary on the Web, other than at CBS.com.
But right now, after a second very public Bachelor-like sales process (that ended much like that season where the Bachelor picked nobody), Hulu is still a joint venture, one that seems to need some cash. Yes, Disney and company have pledged $750 million to invest in the site. That doesn't seem nearly enough when trying to spend in the same league as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
A CBS/Hulu marriage could result in more dollars going toward Hulu's quest to land its own House of Cards, while also potentially bringing more viewers to CBS shows. Yes, CBS is the top network and almost seems immune to the pains of the broadcast business at times. But you've got to plan for a much more difficult network TV future someday, and CBS is surely missing out getting Big Bang, Two and Half Men, Criminal Minds and others in front of those cord-never kids who may never gravitate to its old-school appointment TV model. CBS seems to acknowledge this with its decision to stream Under the Dome in season via Amazon.
There is, of course, a great reason for CBS to stay away from Hulu. It doesn't want to be stuck trying to sell Hulu next year, or whenever the next time the parent companies get restless or can't agree on its model. And the streaming ad revenue for Hulu is solid, but maybe not enough to get Moonves excited when he's inking deals with Turner for Big Bang at $2 million an episode.
But couldn't CBS test at least distributing its shows on Hulu without investing? Or maybe now's the time for CBS to use Hulu's need for content as leverage in getting recent episodes of the net's biggest hits on Netflix in season.
Or maybe CBS should just stay far, far away and keep cranking out mass hits for as long as it can. We never said VideoWatch wouldn't have some dumb ideas.