I was thinking about buying Hulu. I’m a big fan of classic TV and I love streaming shows on my iPad so I thought, why not? I know the company isn’t making a profit but I figured that with my love of television, I could turn that around. Stock the place with old Lost in Space episodes and run 50’s b-horror movie marathons on the weekend – the subscribers would come running with fistfuls of cash.
Alas, my dream of being Hulu’s next CEO are over because Hulu is no longer for sale.
I don’t feel too bad, because it’s not like they sold the company to someone else. Nope. The owners decided to keep it after all. They even agreed to dump more cash into the site – a full $750 million – in order to “propel future growth.”
Growth is good. But throwing more money at the site isn’t going to make Hulu profitable because they haven’t solved the problem.
What is the problem? It’s right there in the first line of the press release:
21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company today jointly announced that they will maintain their respective ownership positions in Hulu.
Three major media companies have a stake in Hulu. That’s three sets of very opinionated voices, each with its own agenda. How does that even work? A company has to have a leader; a single decision maker. How do they make decisions in Hulu land? They don’t.
Hulu has the most confusing plan of any streaming service. You can watch some shows online for free but you have to pay to watch those same shows on your iPad. You can watch some first run Fox shows 24 hours after they air on TV, but only if you also subscribe to a pay cable service. You can watch ABC shows without restrictions on Hulu but if you want to watch them on the ABC app, you have to log in with your cable account. Or is it the other way around?
The biggest problem, and the reason I canceled my Hulu subscription, is that even when you pay, you still have to watch commercials.
And they wonder why they’re not profitable?
It’s a shame, because Hulu started out as the quirky, pop-culture oriented streaming service for TV fans. They had the best TV commercials and the tone of the site was inviting and just a little irreverent. It had potential but now. . . not so much.
And why the owners waited until the eleventh hour to back out of the sale is beyond me. Were the in it just for the publicity? Or was it a case of realizing what they had after they saw that other people were interested?
Here’s a quote from partner Chase Carey, President and Chief Operating Officer of 21st Century Fox;
“We believe the best path forward for Hulu is a meaningful recapitalization that will further accelerate its growth under the current ownership structure. We had meaningful conversations with a number of potential partners and buyers, each with impressive plans and offers to match, but with 21st Century Fox and Disney fully aligned in our collective vision and goals for the business, we decided to continue to empower the Hulu team, in this fashion, to continue the incredible momentum they’ve built over the last few years.”
Here’s hoping but I can’t see how three major companies will ever be able to come together into one profitable, cohesive unit. Hulu, I wish you well and I hope someday I can come back.