Disney takes ownership stake in Hulu

By Justin Mann on April 30, 2009, 1:09 PM
Hulu stands out as one of the largest premium-content free video sites on the Internet these days. It fills an interesting niche, not as user-oriented as YouTube but not subscription-based like Netflix. It's one of a few sites that media giants are backing, hoping to avoid a loss of viewership to sites that broadcast their content without permission. Content is always key here, with people paying attention not only to what sort of quality you have, but what sort of variety you can provide. Hulu is about to get a huge boost in that aspect, following an announcement that Disney would be making a substantial ownership investment into the company.

In particular, Disney will be absorbing a 30% ownership stake in Hulu, giving them considerable say in what direction the site takes. They will be joining NBC and News Corp, who are the current owners. In return for their contribution, Hulu will receive a significant amount of additional content from Disney's library, adding dozens of new shows to their growing list of ad-supported videos. It isn't mentioned whether or not Disney will be providing content in HD quality, like some Hulu content already is.

The site still has a lot of growing pains to get over, ranging from content organization to video selection. They also have a few PR issues to tackle, as they aren't always very friendly to third parties that want to build off their service. Aside from that, they certainly have enough big names backing them at this point. The only major provider left to grab is CBS, though they have burned a bridge or two with them already. Can they turn that around?




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