Will $1.9B Bid From Dish Seal a Deal for Hulu?

Bidding for online video aggregator Hulu topped out at $1.9 billion with satellite TV provider Dish Network (NAS: DISH) coming in ahead of Yahoo! (NAS: YHOO) and Amazon (NAS: AMZN) , according to reports. Now, the question is: Will Hulu's wavering triumvirate pursue a deal?

The trio of owners -- Disney (NYS: DIS) , News Corp. (NAS: NWSA) and Comcast's (NAS: CMCSA) NBCUniversal -- had hoped for considerably higher bids. And, although Google (NAS: GOOG) apparently came in with an offer that may have topped $4 billion, it included demands for content the current owners were unwilling to meet, sources told Business Insider.

BI still predicts that Google may have the inside track, primarily because its deep pockets make it a tough offer to refuse. But will content owners really be willing to open the henhouse door to a company they've traditionally seen as a fox?

Add to that a report from Reuters last week that the auction could go off the tracks completely since the owners can't seem to get on the same page about whether they actually want to sell Hulu. Only Disney CEO Bob Iger has been adamant about the sale, with News Corp. COO Chase Carey last month saying a sale might not be in the cards.

A major sticking point also likely has been the unwillingness of Hulu's owners to offer long-term guarantees of content availability to any new buyer. Without the content, Hulu's just a pretty UI and some good back-end technology (which may be more important to Dish than the rest of it anyway).

CBS chief exec Les Moonves last week remained skeptical of a sale being completed.

"What are (buyers) getting and how long are they getting it?" he said. "Are they buying two years of programs for $2 billion?"

Earlier this month, NBCU roiled the waters even more when it rolled out a new iPad and iPhone app that gives users access to much of its content for free; Hulu partner Media Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting had just finished instituting a pay wall around its content.

This article originally published here. Get your online video industry briefing here.

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