Fox, NBCU and Disney had been shopping the company for the past several months
Fox, Disney and NBCUniversal have called off their planned sale of Hulu and will invest $750 million in the online video company, they announced on Friday.
The owners had been exploring a sale for the past several months, accepting offers from as many as seven different companies. Everyone from Yahoo to private equity firm Silver Lake Partners to DirecTV made offers, but the number of interested bidders diminished as the owners insisted on receiving at least $1 billion for the company.
An insider close to the bidding said that DirecTV bid aggressively but that the withdrawal was a "strategic decision." It is the second time Hulu's owners have attempted to sell the company only to pull back.
In between those two attempted sales, CEO Jason Kilar departed the company in January, leaving Hulu without clear executive leadership. Andy Forssell (pictured), the former head of content, took over as interim CEO after Kilar left.
Many of the bidders balked at the terms of the deal, as the owners placed what one dubbed "onerous" demands with regard to content. As TheWrap reported, many of them, owners of TV networks like NBC, ABC and Fox as well as a litany of cable channels, wanted the rights to hold back certain shows from Hulu.
They also wanted to prevent certain shows from appearing on Hulu for 30 days after they aired. That ran counter to what made Hulu unique in the first place. Hulu was the first website to legally host a wide range of new TV shows just after they aired.
However, the owners have often disagreed about which shows should be available, when they should be available and whether they should be availabel via Hulu or Hulu Plus, Hulu's subscription service.
In this case they decided its best future involved their continued ownership.
“Hulu has emerged as one of the most consumer friendly, technologically innovative viewing platforms in the digital era," Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "As its evolution continues, Disney and its partners are committing resources to enable Hulu to achieve its maximum potential."
The extended sale process spurred many to doubt if a dael would close, as Hulu's owners previously tried and failed to sell the company. Hulu first began soliciting bids in March, and actually accepted the first round in May.
Hulu accepted final bids last Friday from DirecTV, Chernin Entertainment along with AT&T and Guggeheim Partners (allied with private equity shop KKR). Yet Guggenheim bailed earlier this week and the owners then took the company off the table.