updated 12:10 pm EDT, Thu April 30, 2009
Disney Joins Hulu
Disney this morning said it has obtained an equity stake in Hulu. The deal, which puts three Disney executives on the Hulu board, gives the studio equal influence along with original founders NBC Universal and News Corp. (Fox) in addition to the ability to publish content on the streaming web video service. Most of its initial lineup will center on current and back-catalog TV shows from ABC and Disney, such as Lost and Dancing with the Stars, but should also include "popular library titles" from Walt Disney Studios.
The deal represents the first instance of 3 major US TV studios offering full-length streaming content on a single site and comes just after Hulu has already become one of the top video sites online, taking third place behind YouTube and a Fox-specific site with 380 million clips viewed each month. CBS is the only major broadcaster not yet involved.
Disney's step also serves as one of the first distinct moves to offer its TV lineup outside of its own ABC.com streaming site or else through pay-to-play services like iTunes. Apple chief Steve Jobs sits on Disney's board of directors and so has a potential conflict of interest, though it's not mentioned whether Jobs was at all involved in deciding on the Hulu stake.