Microsoft would no doubt have the money to buy Hulu, the popular online television and movie service, but would it have the inclination?

My gut reaction is no, but the L.A. Times reports this morning that the Redmond company is among the potential buyers that Hulu has begun meeting with as it explores the possibility of a sale. The story describes Google as engaging in preliminary talks with Hulu about an acquisition. Hulu’s process of exploration was reportedly sparked by Yahoo approaching the company about a potential deal.

Microsoft will be watching the process closely, at least, based on the implications for areas of its business including Xbox Live, which is among the growing number of ways that people can access the Hulu Plus subscription service. But Hulu is about content more than technology, and in that way it would be a surprise to see Microsoft pursue an acquisition — unless it’s a defensive move to keep the company out of Google’s hands.

Steve Ballmer & Co. also have an $8.5 billion preoccupation in the form of Microsoft’s deal to acquire Skype.

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  • Guest

    I like this idea, Todd. Adding Hulu+ would be a great way to offset the so-far anæmic adoption rate of Zune video. The so-called “Hune” partnership would mix both contemporary TV shows with a strong backlist.

    • Anonymous

      Sure, but they’ve got Hulu Plus already on Xbox Live without needing to buy Hulu. (Or am I misunderstanding what you’re saying?) 

      • Guest

        Wouldn’t it be better if Microsoft could pocket the entirety of the $8/mo subscription that each Hulu+ subscriber pays? As it stands they’re probably making only half that.

        Ditto Netflix. As most analysts know, it’s only a matter of time before a major platform provider like Microsoft buys out Netflix and incorporates its service into a larger more useful one. That way, customers can be more readily cross-merchandised and upsold.

        Imagine, Todd, Zune, Hulu, Netflix, Zune, and more under one umbrella. I’d buy a “Zulux” annual pass right now!

      • GW fan

        Hulu makes much more sense than Skype. Netflix would also. Microsoft needs to make an aggressive that puts the competition on the defense, not just try to catch up with me too efforts. Google and Apple are outmaneuvering Ballmer eating away like termites at his core businesses.

        As others note if Hulu goes to Google what will Ballmer do. For now they can just drive the price up. Tease Ballmer, distract him. It is less of a loss for them than it could be for MS. Let’s rank the TV players, Apple, Google, is Microsoft even in the game or will this be the next major territory of future sales that Ballmer lets slip away. He should seal the deal. Forget Skype, buy Hulu or Netflix but can he see that?

  • Anonymous

    Those guys seem to know what the deal is. Wow.

  • Avatar X

    Of course it makes sense for Microsoft to chip in if Google is on the lookout for Hulu. Even if they are not really serious about it and they just want jump up the acquisition price for Google. 

    What is really interesting is how exactly hulu agreements were modified or not to enable such sale is what will determine the actual potentia ask price. But still put it at no less than 1.5 billion. But a bidding war could result on it going for up to 3 billions if the content agreements are premptively multi-year (even if only 2-3 years) no matter what.

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