Steve Chiotakis: The online TV show and movie service Hulu may be up for grabs. There are a lot of if’s in this story, but the L.A. Times is reporting Internet giant Yahoo may be the one kicking the tires. Things at Hulu have been pretty dour lately, despite a rosy outlook for
streaming video. Marketplace Tech Report host John Moe is with us live to talk about it. Hi John.
John Moe: Hey Steve.
Chiotakis: Why is Hulu having such a tough time?
Moe: Well for a few reasons. Netflix is probably the biggest. Netflix has been able to hustle more, get more movies, become a service people feel like they need to have. The other thing is management. Hulu is jointly owned and operated by a lot of different groups — Fox, Disney, Comcast all have a stake. But Comcast has no say in the decisions Hulu makes as part of the conditions when they bought NBC. So there’s a lot of cooks in the Hulu kitchen.
Chiotakis: Ah, the Hulu kitchen. Why would the networks, John, knowing that streaming is the future, want to get out of this particular streaming business?
Moe: Well don’t undervalue the expense of hassle. There is a lot of hassle in running Hulu. And they’re probably frustrated about not having control over the business. They might be thinking, look, if people want to see my show from my network, they can come to my site and look at my ads. And if they do sell, there may be a future where they can sell the rights to the new Hulu and just make money off the top without all the hassle.
Chiotakis: What could this do, John, to Hulu — fix it or break it even more?
Moe: Yes, it could. It could do both those things. There’s the sense in the tech community that Jason Kilar, the CEO, really wants to innovate and expand, try new things. He’s thought of as being really bright, but he can’t do it because he has lots of old-line bosses kind of holding him down. Hulu does have challenges though. How do you compete with Netflix when it’s such a powerful first mover? And what if the networks just don’t want to offer their shows on Hulu anymore. There’s nothing on the shelf at that point. But if Kilar can come up with something new and more independent, more risky that people feel like they must have — like the ability to live stream just the TV networks that you want, the a la carte cable dream that we’ve all thought about for so long — then it could do really well.
Chiotakis: As long as all the cooks in the kitchen like it, right?
Moe: Gotta mind the cooks.
Chiotakis: Marketplace Tech Report host John Moe. John, thanks.
Moe: Thanks Steve.
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