An Independent Hulu Would Still Be Holding Its Hands Out

Hulu needs to be an independent company so it can compete in real-time, real-world business. Trouble is, consumers still seek out TV network content. The cliche is real: Content is king (make that mostly TV network content).

The move to independence ould free up Jason Kilar, Hulu chief executive officer, to say and do what he likes, even when verbalizing the obvious: there is a glut of commercial messaging on traditional TV and less on the likes of Hulu.

The problem is the kind of current Hulu video content: As long as Hulu remains, for the most part, a de-facto DVR on the Internet -- for many of those U.S. viewers who don't have actual at-home DVR hardware -- it will be limited. And a lot of Hulu's problems will remain.

When and if Hulu becomes the main transmission vehicle of network shows for network shows is the real question to ask current Hulu owners -- News Corp., Comcast, Walt Disney, and Providence Equity Partners. Another question: When will real original big- marketed (as in "marketed on traditional TV") -- programs appear on Hulu?



Viewers were deservedly excited when Hulu launched, and the video Web site got well-deserved accolades. But many -- including CBS, which decided not to sign with Hulu -- knew that its growth curve would be small.

Hulu is on track for $500 million in revenue this year. But News Corp's Chase Carey and Disney's Bob Iger have seemingly soured on it -- or at best have mixed feelings, wanting it to be more accountable and future-thinking. Premium-priced Hulu? There's little in the way of consumer sentiment for that.

If Yahoo is a real bidder for Hulu, you can understand why. The valuable, but sometimes maligned, long-time Internet brand needs a strong facelift. Having Hulu in its camp could do that.

But Yahoo or anyone else would still be beholden to the TV networks, who would, we assume, drivie a harder bargain when it comes to what value TV shows should command -- in terms of both wholesale and retail pricing.

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