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Hulu buyout heats up with four reported bidders

The video streaming service has supposedly been courting buyers over the past couple of years and now it looks like the first round of bids may be in.


Companies looking to get a piece of the Hulu pie had until this week to put in their first round of bids for the video streaming service. And, it appears that four companies have gone in for a slice.

Former News Corp president Peter Chernin, private equity fund Guggenheim Digital Media (which is headed the former interim Yahoo CEO by Ross Levinsohn), satellite operator DirecTV, and cable operator Time Warner Cable have all put in bids, according to Reuters.

Hulu has supposedly been looking for a buyer over the past couple of years, and recently several companies have allegedly expressed interest. Besides those companies that reportedly put in a bid this week, Yahoo and Amazon have also allegedly been in talks with Hulu. Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer was said to have met with the video streaming company's corporate owners earlier this month.

Hulu buyout rumors pop up pretty often. The company's owners, which include Walt Disney and News Corp., put the company up for sale in 2011 but called off the process later that year, saying Hulu "holds a unique and compelling strategic value to each of its owners."

However, since that time, co-owner Providence Equity Partners sold its stake in Hulu, and Comcast's NBC Universal gave up its say in management matters because of regulatory restrictions related to the NBC acquisition. In addition, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said in January that he would step down in the first quarter.

The remaining owners, Disney and News Corp., have disagreed on Hulu's strategy. News Corp., which owns Fox, would like to see Hulu transition away from ads and become a subscription-only service. Disney prefers a free service supported by ads. Along with speculation about an outside bidder taking over Hulu, there also has been talk that Disney or News Corp. could buy out the other's stake.

It's not a big surprise that several media companies are interested in Hulu. The streaming service reports that it has more than 4 million subscribers, which pay $7.99 per month. This is in addition to ad revenue. The site also says it generated roughly $700 million in revenue last year.

When contacted by CNET, Hulu declined to comment on the buyout.