* Sources had said disagreements could derail auction
* Firing of Yahoo CEO Bartz torpedoed its bid
* Owners say will now focus on Hulu's future
LOS ANGELES, Oct 13 An attempted sale of online
video website Hulu has fallen through after months of difficult
and complex negotiations between owners such as Walt Disney Co and potential buyers.
Hulu's owners, which also include News Corp ,
Comcast Corp's NBC Universal and Providence Equity,
said in a statement on Thursday they had decided against a sale
of the video service.
"Our focus now rests solely on ensuring that our efforts as
owners contribute in a meaningful way to the exciting future
that lies ahead for Hulu," they said in a statement.
Reuters reported last month that the auction was in danger
of getting derailed by conflicts over convoluted digital
rights, a wide bid-ask gap, and a lack of commitment to sell by
Hulu's owners, among other things.
This was the second time Hulu's owners had envisioned a
full or partial exit strategy that failed. After nearly six
months of planning, they ditched an initial public offering
last December that might have raised up to $300 million.
Sources with knowledge of the talks said last month a rift
had developed between the price bidders offered and the amount
that Hulu's owners were willing to accept.
Bids had ranged from as low as $500 million to as much as
$2 billion, the sources said at the time. The most serious
suitors included Google Inc , Amazon.com Inc ,
DirecTV and DISH Network Corp .
Yahoo Inc had been viewed as one of the most
enthusiastic bidders -- before its leadership imploded with the
abrupt firing of CEO Carol Bartz.
Hulu's owners had always faced an uphill battle in valuing
a nascent Web content-streaming service with no long-term
content deals and with unclear digital rights for newer
Internet or mobile platforms for which there exists no
Some analysts had thought an outright sale to be an
abandonment of Hulu's future growth potential, particularly if,
as some experts say, Internet streaming will become mainstream
in coming years.