Apple Said to be Looking at Hulu Purchase

Apple is apparently interested in making a bid for the online video subscription service Hulu. Word of Apple’s interest comes courtesy of unnamed sources who claim the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker has started talks with Hulu, but hasn’t formally joined the list of potential buyers, according to Bloomberg.

Hulu is currently owned by NBC Universal, Disney, Comcast and News Corp, and competes with Netflix and Apple’s own iTunes Store. Apple doesn’t, however, offer a subscription video service and instead offers movie and TV show rentals and purchases.

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While purchasing Hulu would give Apple a ready-to-go video subscription service, so far the company has seemed content to stick with its content purchase and rental business model. Hulu’s current owners may not be interested in selling to Apple, either.

Giving Apple control of Hulu isn’t likely something the movie and TV studios would relish, especially considering one of the reasons they backed the video company initially was to try to limit Apple’s control over the entertainment industry. Intentionally handing that control over to Apple, even with a likely US$2 billion price tag, would be a bitter pill to swallow.

As part of the deal, the studios are said to be offering Hulu’s buyer an additional five years of program rights, along with the promise of exclusive access to content for two years. That might be enough to make Apple’s executives seriously consider a bid, although it also may make studios leery of handing over access to so much of their content to the company that made the iTunes Store.

Apple hasn’t commented on whether or not it has any interest in buying Hulu, so for now the reports should be treated as nothing more than rumors.