Hulu extends contracts with major TV networks

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

Hulu fans everywhere will be happy to know the site recently renewed a deal to keep shows from NBC, Fox and ABC on the site for an extended period of time.

As the original two-year contract with TV execs approached its end, Hulu was unsure if it could come to a fresh agreement with News Corp., Disney, and NBCUniversal to keep the content licenses for these network TV shows.

Thankfully Hulu signed the deal, which should be in effect later this week in an agreement led by CEO Jason Kilar, the folks at News Corp., Disney, and Investor Providence Equity Partners. 

NBCUniversal may get the short end of the stick as it gave up its board seats and management role earlier this year as part of its Comcast merger agreements, which means it will have to accept whatever terms the partners agree on.

In a statement from Kilar, Hulu said the interests of all four companies are being well represented in the negotiations, stating, "News Corp, Disney, Providence and the Hulu team have been engaged in productive discussions to extend our existing content agreements a number of years. Keep in mind that our existing Hulu.com content agreements already extend for several more years; these discussions would extend the term further and also extend our separate Hulu Plus content agreements."

Looking towards the next step, Kilar added, "Between the operating results and formalizing the above, it is shaping up to be a big year for Hulu."

The exact terms of the deal are not yet disclosed but according to All Things D, sources close to the negotiations say that the joint venture’s basic structure will remain the same. Hulu.com will remain an ad-supported site while Hulu Plus will be based on subscription fees and offer users the ability to watch programs on devices like the Apple iPad.

Hulu originally wanted exclusive rights to the content, but rumor has it perhaps the new agreement will give content owners more flexibility to distribute amongst other digital outlets. Disney CEO Bob Iger hinted at this fact when he said Disney supported Hulu, but not exclusively stating, "We don’t intend to let a platform—even one we own—get in the way of doing what we think is right."

The extended deal also puts rumors to rest that Hulu’s network owners want to squash the site, which was under speculation when original Hulu backers Peter Chernin of News Corp and NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker lost their jobs.