updated 02:50 pm EDT, Fri July 1, 2011
Hulu may sell to Google with Microsoft or Yahoo up
(Update: Facebook feature down for security hole) Hulu threw itself into the spotlight Friday with both details of its possible buyers and official Facebook links. New leaks have uncovered that, despite it not being part of the initial offer, Google is one of the companies in "preliminary" negotiations to buy the TV streaming service. Microsoft and Yahoo were also said by the LA Times to be candidates.
The discussions were considered tentative and wouldn't necessarily lead to a deal.
Each company would have different incentives to buy Hulu. Google would likely want a better TV complement to its existing Videos service and give both desktop and Android users. Microsoft could use it to further integrate Hulu on the Xbox 360. Yahoo has the least immediate need but is relatively weak in video content.
Any deal might be contingent on making sacrifices that could hurt Hulu's share even as it sells off. Among these could be longer ad rolls to boost revenue or requirements that customers identify as traditional TV subscribers to get the same quick access to shows on Hulu that they have today.
Hulu hasn't commented, but it has publicly introduced a new Facebook sharing component. Facebook members can not only share individual shows in their news feeds but comment on a segment down to the individual second. Users link their accounts through Facebook Connect and only have to be signed on once to send out clips.
The feature works with whatever tier of Hulu service users have, although it currently works only on the web. To help spur on early adoption, Microsoft is giving a month's worth of free Hulu Plus access to anyone who signs up for Facebook from Hulu.
Update: A new bug discovered in the Facebook link has pushed Hulu to take it down. The hiccup offers to link people to Facebook profiles other than their own and even lets users get complete access to that person's social network account.