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Hulu likely to lose next-day episodes after sale, Eisner says

The former head of Disney, one of Hulu's parents selling the streaming-video site, tells Bloomberg that whoever buys it is likely to follow a Netflix route rather than stream TV repeats right after they air.


Hulu's sale will disappoint fans of the site who love its major network shows streaming soon after broadcast, as the former head of one of Hulu's owners sees it.

Michael Eisner, who was Disney's chief executive for two decades, said that his former company and Hulu's other owners -- Comcast and 21st Century Fox -- have built the site as one thing but a post-sale Hulu will likely be very different.

"The problem with Hulu is, they're selling it as one thing ... as near-term repeats of network programming," he said. But the sellers are "taking away basically the next-day availability of their content," he added in an appearance on Bloomberg TV. Eisner was speaking on the sidelines of the Sun Valley conference, a summit of media executives that's closed to the press.

"Anybody that is buying it is buying it with the dream that they can be Netflix," he said.

After a first round of bids drew a handful of prospective buyers, a second round has narrowed down suitors to DirecTV and a partnership of AT&T and the Chernin Group, according to media reports. Time Warner Cable is also reported to be interested in Hulu, but as a partner with its current owners rather than an outright buyer.

If the buyer is a content-oriented production kind of company, then Hulu will morph from repeat broadcasting to original broadcasting, an expensive proposition, Eisner said

"Therefore, the price you pay for the actual asset," he said, "will be tempered by what you think you have to spend to make that asset work because NBC, Fox, and ABC are not going to give you a great deal anymore on their own content."