Hulu has changed the way that many Americans watch television programming these days. It is currently owned by News Corp, Walt Disney, NBC Universal, and Providence Equity Partners, but the company had been looking to going public with an IPO to gain its independence. Those plans are now on hold, even though the company is on track to earn $260 million for 2010. The problem apparently is that Hulu has not yet locked up long-term agreements for its streaming video content, which it fears could spook investors. Instead, it seems that they will go back to the well again, and ask the current investors for additional funding.
One of the big problems for Hulu is that Netflix is breathing down its neck. While Hulu shows “catch-up” episodes of television programming, Netflix has been limited to past seasons that have come out on DVD. Netflix is busy making new deals, however, including a “next day” arrangement for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. If Netflix continues to add access to recent episodes, it could challenge Hulu’s advantage in this area.
Many have viewed Hulu as an interesting experiment that has given Fox, ABC, and NBC a sandbox in which to explore online streaming of their programming content. Whether or not they have the conviction to transform it into a major distribution service for their content — and whether they can compete effectively with Netflix — remains to be seen.