Report: Providence Equity Buyout To Trigger Uncertain Future For Hulu

The next few weeks could see sweeping changes at Hulu triggered by the exit of co-owner Providence Equity Partners, according to an internal memo obtained by Variety.

The memo, drafted in July, claims that the buyout of the private equity firm, which owns 10 percent of Hulu, would be completed in September by the video venture’s other corporate owners Disney, News Corp and Comcast, which each own 30 percent.

This event would also make it possible for top Hulu executives whose shares have already vested to cash out. A source tells Variety that Kilar alone could cash out at close to $100 million and then decide to leave -- a possibility that Hulu’s co-owners seem to be taking seriously.  

A second consequence of the Providence exit could be changes to Hulu’s licensing agreements, which could lead to Hulu losing exclusivity for some of its content.

One major stumbling block appears to be that Disney and Fox don’t agree on how the video service should be run going forward (Note: Comcast, which also owns close to a third of Hulu, waived its rights to manage the company’s affairs as a condition of its merger with NBC Universal).

Among other things, the report indicates that Disney and Fox are at odds over authentication. Fox wants users to log in with either their Hulu Plus or pay-TV account details to get next-day access to its content, while Disney has no interest in this type of authentication. 

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