Market Overview

Time Warner Cable Looking to Buy Hulu Before Yahoo

Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) is interested in acquiring the Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) of television -- AKA Hulu.

According to Bloomberg, discussions are "at an early stage and a transaction isn't certain." Another, unidentified pay-TV company is also interested in acquiring Hulu.

Interestingly, only a portion of Hulu is expected to be sold. It is unclear if this is due to the company's existing owners -- Disney (NYSE: DIS), News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS) and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) -- which may wish to maintain some ownership of the firm they helped create and popularize. However, it is highly unlikely that Time Warner Cable would turn down the chance to buy the entire company, provided that it was up for sale.

Time Warner and its mysterious rival are just two of the many companies and individuals who are interested in buying Hulu.

Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) has been keeping its eye on Hulu for at least a couple years. Former News Corp. COO Peter Chernin is also interested in buying Hulu, as is former Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn. News Corp. has also reportedly expressed an interest in taking ownership of the entire company.

Comcast was forced to give up managerial control of Hulu when it acquired NBCUniversal (Hulu's co-creator), so Comcast could not be the other firm interested in buying the streaming video site. Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), which purchased Blockbuster Video and uses its rental and on-demand video services to enhance its existing satellite options, is also unlikely to be on the list of Hulu buyers.

That leaves Cox Communications, DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), AT&T (NYSE: T), Mediacom, WOW! and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) as the primary pay-TV services that could be interested in Hulu. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) could also use it to bolster its pay-TV efforts -- and offer unique options to its cellular service customers.

There is also the chance that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) could still buy Hulu, which it would use to improve its existing streaming video service. The downside is that many of Hulu and Amazon's classic TV contracts are the same. For example, Amazon Prime and Hulu both contain every episode from the show 24. By acquiring Hulu, Amazon would be partially investing in content it has already acquired. Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) faces the same dilemma.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: Hulu time warner cable YahooNews M&A Success Stories Tech Best of Benzinga

 

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