Owners of Hulu call off its sale

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Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013 12:00 am

The owners of Hulu said Friday that they had decided not to sell the pioneering streaming-video website after all.

Instead, the three companies that mutually own Hulu — 21st Century Fox, the Walt Disney Co. and NBCUniversal — said they would make a new investment of $750 million and use Hulu’s technology to compete against other online distributors like Netflix.

The announcement represented an anticlimactic end to months of speculation about the website’s future.

DirecTV and AT&T were among the distributors who submitted bids of about $1 billion in recent weeks for Hulu. But the website’s owners concluded, according to a person with close ties to the process, that the “equity value in the long run outstrips the sale value.”

In a statement, Chase Carey, the president of 21st Century Fox, the entertainment part of the media company that was known as News Corp. before last month’s corporate breakup, said, “We believe the best path forward for Hulu is a meaningful recapitalization that will further accelerate its growth under the current ownership structure.”

His statement noted that the bidders had “impressive plans and offers,” but that 21st Century Fox and Disney — which have repeatedly clashed over the future of Hulu — had come away from the process “fully aligned in our collective vision and goals for the business.”

The third owner of Hulu, NBCUniversal, has been a silent partner since being acquired by Comcast in early 2011. At that time the government barred Comcast from being involved in Hulu’s business affairs, for fear that it would try to impose restrictions on Hulu to protect its core cable business.

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