updated 10:20 pm EDT, Thu May 12, 2011
Deal hinges on program 'windows,' say sources
All Things D is reporting that Hulu, the popular web-streaming video service, is allegedly close to a deal with several major networks -- including its former owner, NBCUniversal -- that will keep major programs and networks on board with the service, extending their terms even further into the future as well as extending the separate Hulu Plus content agreements. Officials representing ABC, NBC, and Fox are all involved in the discussions, according to the report, but users will be unlikely to notice any significant changes.
Unnamed sources from people familiar with the negotiations say that some programs may be withheld from the site, but changes are said to be mostly centered around the "windows" of program availability, factors like how long a program is available or how soon after transmission it appears, along with details like how much Hulu pays for the content. The content providers may also be looking for more flexibility to distribute their programming elsewhere.
The deal is said to be involving Hulu management, officials from News Corp., Disney and Hulu investor Providence Equity Partners. NBCUniversal had to give up its management role in Hulu as part of its Comcast merger agreement and will have to accept any terms negotiated by the other partners in Hulu's joint-venture operation.
Originally, Hulu was originally meant to compete with YouTube, offering network television content under an ad-supported model, but changes in the technology and landscape of media offerings have made Hulu something of a red-headed stepchild to the content providers who co-own it.
Hulu already has a contract in place that runs for several more years, but is looking to secure a longer-term deal for both the ad-supported free site and the Hulu Plus subscription service, which more directly competes with Netflix and to a lesser extent with Apple's iTunes TV rentals. [via AllThingsD]