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Hulu sale could lead to more commercials, longer release delays

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Late last week it was reported that streaming video provider Hulu was considering an acquisition offer. The news snowballed yesterday into a much bigger proposition, with a report that the company would be meeting with multiple potential buyers in the coming weeks. Now some additional information has surfaced about what such a sale might mean for us consumers, compiled in a mega-post over on All Things Digital.

Hulu’s three partner owners, Disney/ABC, News Corp./Fox and Comcast/NBCU, have all sealed their deals to extend their content licenses. Disney and News Corp. both have management roles, meaning the fact that their deals have been extended also keeps fellow partner NBC Universal on board as well. All of which serves to make the web destination a more tantalizing purchase. All the consumer really needs to be concerned with here is that the content that’s already available on Hulu from these three companies won’t be going anywhere.

That’s the good news. Unfortunately, it looks like some changes might be incoming that won’t sit so well. For starters, the new buyers will likely extend window between a show’s airdate and its Hulu release from the day after to as much as eight days, The Los Angeles Times reports. The delay can be gotten around if viewers can prove they are cable or satellite TV subscribers. Since this approach will require that a new authentication system is implemented, it will take some time before we see it. VentureBeat also reports that the sale will likely insert a larger number of commercials into each streaming episode, but that information isn’t sourced.

Regardless, Hulu has never quite managed to rival the quality customer experience of Netflix’s Watch Instantly service due to its focus on securing freshly aired content each week. The ads and post-airing release delays are a direct result of that, even for the service’s Hulu Plus subscription package. None of the above-mentioned scenarios will become a reality unless the purchase happens and the new owner pushes for them, but longer delays and more commercials will only serve to push more customers away.