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.