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Google among firms bidding up to $2 billion for Hulu?

The search giant--along with Yahoo, Amazon, and DirectTV--is said to be preparing an offer for the streaming service. Hulu will accept initial acquisition bids starting Wednesday.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Actor Alec Baldwin starring in an old Hulu commercial.
Actor Alec Baldwin starring in an old Hulu commercial. Hulu

Video streaming service Hulu is accepting initial acquisition bids starting on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Citing "people familiar with the matter," the Journal reported today that Google, Yahoo, Amazon.com, and DirecTV are among the companies interested in acquiring the video service. Although none of the companies has made an offer yet, the Journal's sources said the bids are expected to range from $500 million to $2 billion.

Talks of Hulu being acquired began in June when reports claimed Yahoo had approached the company to inquire about a possible buy. Soon after, Hulu's board reportedly engaged investment banks to help the company sell to the highest bidder. At the time, reports claimed that Hulu was courting suitors in a range of industries, including media, technology, and communications.

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Last month, Google was cited as one of the firms interested in acquiring Hulu. Microsoft was also reportedly interested.

Acquiring Hulu could present a host of pitfalls for the buyer. Hulu's major owners, NBC Universal, Fox and ABC, are among some content providers balking at the idea of offering up content to the Web as quickly as possible. In fact, recent negotiations with the television companies and Hulu saw the streaming provider agree to take content eight days after it airs, rather than the next day, as it formerly did.

Last month, Fox announced that it would start offering its content to Hulu eight days after an episode airs. Cable and satellite television providers would receive its content the next day.

For potential suitors, such delays are an issue. Those companies want to know that they will have all the content they need to keep viewers coming back.

Content availability has long been an issue for Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. In February, Kilar wrote in a blog post that television executives, whom he called "incumbents," are unwilling to accept the changing times in programming availability--to their own detriment. The post followed reports that Kilar was engaged in a private spat with Hulu's owners over that same issue.

Combine that with the fact that Hulu is competing against streaming juggernaut Netflix, which now has over 25 million subscribers, and it's clear that the company is not necessarily the most attractive option for all buyers.

Looking ahead, the Journal's sources said there's no telling whether Hulu will, in fact, be acquired. However, those sources say that Yahoo is still very interested in acquiring the company, which could help Hulu push its selling price up.

Hulu did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.