Just about everyone has thrown their hat into the Hulu bidding ring since the company was put up for sale. Apple, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google were among the early hopefuls, although they’ve all faced their own hurdles. Apple and Hulu fundamentally disagree on a business model for subscription content, Amazon and Yahoo might not have the kind of money Hulu is looking for, Microsoft dropped out of the running early on, and Google could face an investigation for acquiring Hulu when it already owns YouTube.
Apparently, that’s not enough to make the Internet titan lose interest. According to BusinessInsider’s inside source, “the people who run Google’s video site would love to direct some of its 140 million or so viewers into a Hulu-branded channel for premium content and premium brand advertising.”
Google has been busy turning YouTube into more than a destination for lip-synced songs and Internet memes for the better part of 2011. It’s been investing in celebrity-branded channels and began video rentals after partnering with studios. YouTube remains an incredibly important pillar of Google’s success and is the most-visited video site on the Internet. But Hulu still wins one very crucial competition: Ads. According to a recent comScore report, Hulu generated more ad impressions than any other online video service, which is precisely what Google would like to see happen to YouTube. A large part of the reason it’s been pouring so much money into YouTube is to try and court more and bigger advertisers.
But the fact remains that YouTube has a firm grip on Internet video and pulling in Hulu should easily be enough to raise a few antitrust regulators’ eyebrows. That’s not always enough to stop a deal from going through, however. Google’s acquisition of ITA Software was fraught with competitor outrage and an FTC investigation, but nothing could keep Google down. And it’s not as if it couldn’t meet Hulu’s asking price and then some. Also working in favor of a Google-Hulu deal is the fact that the recent comScore report found Hulu was only the tenth most popular online video site, and that Yahoo was even one of the domains that bested it.
There might be a little more red tape for Google to deal with, but we couldn’t count it out yet.