The online video streaming site Hulu has proven a hit with folks who just can’t get enough current and archived video programming from Fox and NBC—now, Hulu as picked up another major player was the Walt Disney Company has reached a deal to bring its content to Hulu, as well as take an ownership stake in the joint Fox/NBC operation. Disney is the parent company of the ABC broadcast network; the move means that of the major U.S. broadcast networks, only CBS programming won’t be included in Hulu’s offerings.
“Disney has sought to meet the constantly evolving viewing habits of our consumers, and today’s Hulu announcement is the next important step in that ongoing journey,” said Disney CEO and president Robert A. Iger, in a statement. “Disney and Hulu share a focus on delivering the highest-quality entertainment experience and we look forward to working with Hulu to build value for our consumers, our brands and our shareholders.”
Once the deal goes through (subject to regulatory approval), Disney plans to bring full-length primetime shows like Lost,Grey’s Anatomy,Desperate Housewives, and Ugly Betty to Hulu, along with soap operas, selected programming from the Disney Channel, older archive shows and titles like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Dancing with the Stars.
Disney is no stranger to digital distribution: it was the first major studio to sign on with Apple’s iTunes digital video distribution service—thanks to Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar, Apple’s Steve Jobs is Disney’s largest single shareholder. ABC was also the first major broadcast network to offer primetime programming online. Although financial terms of Disney’s buy-in to Hulu weren’t disclosed, the Hulu board of directors is adding three seats, all of which will be held by Disney execs.
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