Bids for the online video service Hulu are expected Wednesday, and The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon.com, Google, Yahoo and DirecTV are considering offers.

Amazon could be an interesting suitor, especially given the company’s plans to expand into tablet computers. (Imagine the gadgets pre-loaded with a Hulu channel). Amazon also has been expanding deeper into online video, inking a deal last month with CBS to stream classic TV shows such as Cheers and Star Trek.

But a Hulu buyout may come with too high of a price tag. The Journal reports that bids could range between $500 million and $2 billion. If bidding goes to the upper end of the range, that would be the largest acquisition in Amazon’s history. (Topping the more than $800 million paid for online shoe retailer Zappos).

Here’s why there’s such a big potential gulf in the bidding prices, according to the Journal:

The often diverging interests of the media owners and Hulu management is a reason the controlling owners decided to explore a sale around June, people familiar with the matter have said. Now the owners expect they will have to decide what sort of rights they are willing to give what sort of buyer, and to address that different buyers may value rights differently, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

Kilar

If the digital rights get sorted out, Hulu could make a pretty interesting target. And here’s why:

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar previously worked at Amazon.com, writing the original business plan for the online retailer’s expansion into DVDs and movies. In that role, he reported directly to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.

Could he soon be reporting to his former boss again?

Certainly, a lot of things would need to be sorted out, and the purchase price would have to make sense. But Amazon may make for one of the more interesting suitors.

And with Google — owner of YouTube — now trying to digest Motorola for $12.5 billion it could be an interesting time for Amazon to put a stake in the sand as it relates to online video.

However, as noted above, Hulu may just be too rich for Amazon’s blood. After all, the company’s cash position stood at just $2.6 billion at the end of the second quarter.

Comments

  • Guest

    John, this is the third article in two days based on the notion that Amazon is introducing a device that nobody, save for hack journalists, has confirmed. Please don’t let GeekWire turn into TechCrunch, John. You’re better than that.

    • Windallion

      You know…I’ve never seen an atomic bomb kill anyone, but we have data that all but confirms that (should one be detonated) it will.  No, Amazon hasn’t made the official announcement yet (detonated their proverbial tablet bomb), but can’t we get past this issue and just agree that there is data to back up the rumor of an impending Amazon tablet release?
       
      I agree with the idea of not just throwing out unsupported garbage as fact (if I want that I’ll watch the news…ANY news), but I think this particular topic has enough factual data (from the supply end) to make it more than just a ‘notion’.
       
      My two yen.

      • Guest

        Tell me about these data, Wendy. Cite facts, not TechCrunch articles.

        • Windallion

          I’m not playing this game the whole way.  In my experience, people who don’t like something or are trying to prove a point aren’t going to be swayed from their opinion (right or wrong).
           
          But ok, I’ll play this much.  You made sure to mention what source you wouldn’t accept as factual, so since I’m not going to guess what you DO recognize as factual, go to your favorite search engine and type in ‘Amazon Tablet’ then hit the news tab.
           
           Look specifically for the names Wintek, JTouch, and now you can even look for TPK.  All of them are touch screen manufacturers, you’ll note. 
           
          After you read associated articles about them supplying Amazon with touch screens, I believe tradition surrounding my role in this dispute dictates that I deliver some snarky comment like “I’m sure Amazon is simply purchasing large quantities of touch screens from these three manufacturers because they want interactive mirrors above the urinals in the men’s room”…or something equally obtuse.
           
          After you decide (if you haven’t already) that you wont accept that Amazon purchasing these touch screens for a project that the touch screen manufacturers won’t comment on (I’m sure there are legal issues there) doesn’t count as ‘factual’ information, then I’ll entreat you to stay inside and remain calm the next time you see and smell smoke late at night in your home…after all…it might not actually be a fire.
           
          And no, don’t take any of this as a direct attack.  I understand we don’t have an announcement from Amazon.  I just don’t personally think you’re being very objective about the things we do actually know.

        • Windallion

          I’m not playing this game the whole way.  In my experience, people who don’t like something or are trying to prove a point aren’t going to be swayed from their opinion (right or wrong).
           
          But ok, I’ll play this much.  You made sure to mention what source you wouldn’t accept as factual, so since I’m not going to guess what you DO recognize as factual, go to your favorite search engine and type in ‘Amazon Tablet’ then hit the news tab.
           
           Look specifically for the names Wintek, JTouch, and now you can even look for TPK.  All of them are touch screen manufacturers, you’ll note. 
           
          After you read associated articles about them supplying Amazon with touch screens, I believe tradition surrounding my role in this dispute dictates that I deliver some snarky comment like “I’m sure Amazon is simply purchasing large quantities of touch screens from these three manufacturers because they want interactive mirrors above the urinals in the men’s room”…or something equally obtuse.
           
          After you decide (if you haven’t already) that you wont accept that Amazon purchasing these touch screens for a project that the touch screen manufacturers won’t comment on (I’m sure there are legal issues there) doesn’t count as ‘factual’ information, then I’ll entreat you to stay inside and remain calm the next time you see and smell smoke late at night in your home…after all…it might not actually be a fire.
           
          And no, don’t take any of this as a direct attack.  I understand we don’t have an announcement from Amazon.  I just don’t personally think you’re being very objective about the things we do actually know.

Job Listings on GeekWork