Will Hulu’s Owners Really Sell?

The site gives its owners control over content

Ever since the story of an unidentified buyer making a play for Hulu first broke last week, people have been trying to guess who might be in the running to bid on the video-streaming site. But will Hulu’s owners actually want to sell?

Sources close to Hulu’s three media company owners—Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, and Fox Broadcasting—are now saying that they might ultimately choose to hold onto the site, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Owning Hulu has given Disney, NBC, and Fox a good deal of influence over the video streaming landscape and has allowed them to control the amount of available programming. (New owners, of course, could build a site that’s more directly competitive with cable and satellite providers, making deals with media companies even if Hulu’s original owners pull their own content, says the WSJ.)

Still, others believe that Hulu’s owners would be happy to be free of the site, which has become increasingly difficult to manage as Hulu executives push to increase the amount of available content while its owners try to limit it. Plus, Providence Equity Partners, which also owns a stake in the site, will likely want to make a return on its $100 million investment.

Even if Hulu’s owners decide to sell, however, sources say they could still indirectly influence the site based on their content deals, which are separate from their ownership deals, according to the WSJ. Hulu is in the final stages of negotiating new agreements that will allow the partners to delay new episodes of some shows. Those deals would stay intact even if the site is sold.