Google Thinks Bigger. Wants to Change the Bidding Game for Hulu

September 6, 2011
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As I’ve mentioned earlier, Google is getting closer to buying Hulu. They seem so committed to it, that they’ve offered the owners of Hulu, a much bigger bid than what the others are offering, but with some conditions of their own. What could these conditions be? Here are my 3 guesses:

#1 Much longer content deals

Hulu is not worth that much to the networks owning it now. They could certainly live without it as it is, which is why they want to sell it. But they may have some ulterior motives as well. They may want to get rid of it, and a few years later, refuse to sign any more deals with the company owning Hulu. That would mean the death of Hulu, and whoever bought it would basically throw their money away.

Google knows this, and they want longer content deals than the 2-5 years they’re getting now for most of the shows. Think 10 years instead. If Google gets enough time with Hulu without being disrupted by the networks, they could start signing their own deals with the show creators later. Ten years should be enough for the Google TV and online TV idea in general to take off.

#2 Going global

Shows come much later to countries outside of USA. Imagine being able to watch all the latest US shows in the same time as them being run in US. Now imagine doing that for free – on your Google TV or Android tablet or phone. Google could make that happen through their huge international advertising network.

All they need to do is convince the networks to license the content to them internationally, and allow them to release them in the same time the US is getting them. They could argue, and for good reason, that this will dramatically slow down piracy of their shows abroad.

#3 Streaming to any device

Historically, Hulu has hated the idea of others using Hulu on devices other than a PC and without their approval. So they’ve blocked everyone doing that, including the Google TV devices. Since they want Android on all types of devices, clearly such a policy would not work for Google, where they’d have to ask permission every time when using the networks’ content on those devices. So they are most likely asking them for this, too.

Right now, the other bidders (Amazon, Yahoo, Dish) are all bidding between $1.5-$2 billion, which is what the networks asked for when they estimated Hulu’s value, together with the current content deals. But if Google wants all the above, and is actually willing to disrupt the bidding process like this, they are probably offering the networks at least double that amount. Here’s hoping Google gets what they want, so we can all enjoy free shows on our Android devices or Android-based Google TV’s later on.

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