Time Warner Joining The Hulu Crowd, Buying 10% Of The Streaming Service

In an era when everybody and their grandmother seems to be launching their own proprietary subscription streaming service, something about Hulu seems almost quaint. The platform is jointly owned by three giant media companies, and therefore is almost a pre-bundled service that actually carries programming from all of them. And eventually — but not quite yet — you can make that four.

As tech site Recode reports, Time Warner — not the cable company, the content company — has agreed to buy a 10% stake in Hulu for about $580 million.

Hulu launched a decade ago as a joint venture from Disney, Fox, and NBC (now Comcast). In the ten years since, it’s become a fairly popular, ad-sponsored alternative for watching broadcast TV after its original air date.

A few years later, it launched the Hulu Plus ad-free option, eventually started commissioning original exclusive content, and at this point the company is up to about 12 million active subscribers. Which doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize that competitor Netflix has about 46 million U.S. subscribers.

In short, Hulu has been losing money and looking for another buyer for some time. Originally, Recode says, Hulu had been hoping Time Warner would buy as much as 25% of the company.

At any rate, while Time Warner’s financial contribution may be imminent, its content contribution is more for the future than the present. Because Time Warner execs do not love Hulu’s current model, and think it cannibalizes ratings on its current networks (including HBO, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, CNN, and others).

But Hulu is reportedly planning to launch its own full over-the-top streaming TV service, akin to Dish Sling or PlayStation Vue — a true cable alternative — sometime in 2017. And that’s where you’ll probably see more Time Warner programming. After it, y’know. Actually exists.

Time Warner is buying 10 percent of Hulu for around $600 million, and will join Hulu’s new pay TV service [Recode]

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