Report: Hulu in talks with CBS, Viacom ahead of subscription fee launch

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 8:15am
Mike Robuck

Hulu is working on content deals with CBS, Viacom and Time Warner in order to have premium content available for its paid subscription service.

Citing sources that were privy to the negotiations, Bloomberg News reported that Hulu's goal is to have the new deals, and a subscription service, in place in time for the launch of new shows this fall.

News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and General Electric's NBC Universal jointly own Hulu, but Comcast could become an owner if its merger with NBC Universal goes through.

Hulu has been able to garner content through its owners, which includes access to shows from NBC, ABC and Fox, for its free service, but CBS has stayed on the sidelines so far.

Speaking on a panel at The Cable Show last month, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves said an episode of "CSI" costs about $3 million to produce, but the monetary return for someone watching an episode online doesn't support the production costs, which is why CBS hasn't made its content available to Hulu.

Bloomberg said that Hulu would be willing to share its subscription-based revenues with TV programmers.

Rumors of Hulu offering a paid subscription started surfacing near the end of last year. Currently, Hulu relies on an ad-supported model for the free content, but Hulu is reportedly looking at charging $9.95 per month for "Hulu Plus."

Hulu trails Google's YouTube as the second-most watched online video website, but Bloomberg said that Hulu's numbers dropped off in April after Viacom yanked "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" from Hulu.

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•  Report: Hulu in talks with CBS, Viacom ahead of subscription fee launch
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