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Hulu Sweepstakes: Loser Takes All?

Hulu Sweepstakes: Loser Takes All?

There is a furious battle going on for the control of Hulu’s 24 million visitors each month.

The real question. though, is not necessarily why some powerful and ambitious media magnates want to control it. The better question is: Why bother?

Yes, I’m sounding very cynical. But that’s because I, like everyone else, has waited for Hulu to become a force in the industry. Can the winner create something special out of a company that has consistently been overshadowed by more aggressive rivals.

From its inception, Hulu has failed to live up to expectations. You see a company like Netflix and you automatically wonder: Why couldn’t Hulu grow up to be this kind of entertainment industry force?

Now, DirecTV, AT&T (with the Chernin Group) and, in an improbable occurrence, Time Warner Cabe (which may yet enter the fray) are competing for control

Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal are in the process now of unloading the asset that the nurtured as a way to monetize TV content.

But Hulu seemed to be a victim, not a beneficiary, of its hugely successful co-owners. It was difficult for a day to day manager to help the company grow, possibly because the three controllers couldn’t agree on a common course of action.

Hulu will have to find a way to resemble the Netflix model of creating original content. Otherwise, it will risk getting lost in the technology of today and tomorrow. 

Netflix was shrewd to come up with House of Cards, the very popular series. The show has had the effect of keeping Netflix’s subscribers loyal — and prompting the uninitiated to want to check out Netflix because they have heard so much good word of mouth about House of Cards.

The new owner will have to spent dearly to forge content deals. It all comes down to money.

Which company will bid the most money for Hulu — and does the winner have the resources to enable Hulu to become a contender?

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