The first round of bids for Hulu are expected towards the end of this week.
Analysts expect the price to fall somewhere between $1.5 and $2 billion, but no one knows what the eventual sale will include.
Some or all of the four-part ownership group – Walt Disney Co., News Corp, NBCUniversal, and Providence Equity Partners – could keep their stakes. The rights deals could be constructed in such a way that the new owner would pay more upfront or less now and more in the future.
It’s a flexible potential deal, with a revolving cast of potential suitors.
The biggest names in a variety of industries have all been mentioned, ranging from Apple and Google to AT&T and Verizon.
So who’s going to walk away the winner?
Why they'd bid: They are in a buying mode after purchasing Blockbuster and DBSD North America Inc. Hulu would give Dish a serious foothold in the content business.
Why they wouldn't: They just bought Blockbuster. Do they need Hulu as well?
Odds they bid: 30/1
Odds they win: 120/1
Why they'd bid: 'Some folks I talk to see Hulu as a natural extension of the satellite TV company's existing business plan.' They could also use Hulu to fight off Dish Network, which recently acquired Blockbuster.
Why they wouldn't: Do they need the hassle? CEO, president, and chairman Mike White doesn't love the model.
Odds they bid: 25/1
Odds they win: 60/1
Why they'd bid: 'It has also recently made a number of moves that suggest it could begin getting a lot more aggressive in the online video space in particular. An acquisition of Hulu would merely supplement those already existing initiatives.' Also, their interests are better aligned with the four current owners.
Why they wouldn't: It's a lot of money for a company that is not exactly a key part of the business model.
Odds they bid: 15/1
Odds they win: 40/1
Why they'd bid: There was plenty of talk that Google wanted Hulu before the Motorola purchase. Those reasons are still valid. It's possible that the deal for the mobile phone maker is a step toward a revamped GoogleTV, and Hulu would fit nicely. (Don't hold your breath, though.)
Why they wouldn't: Potential regulatory difficulties stemming from its ownership of YouTube. And then there's the nightmare of integrating Motorola. It's just a lot, basically.
Odds they bid: 5/1
Odds they win: 25/1
Why they'd bid: 'Buying Hulu would instantly help Amazon gain retail market share.'
Why they wouldn't: There isn't a lot of downside. They have the money; they have complementary businesses.
Odds they bid: 1/5
Odds they win: 6/1
Why they'd bid: Carol Bartz needs a hit. And they are willing to spend up to $2B.
Why they wouldn't: It would be seen as a hail mary. (But that might be exactly what Yahoo! needs.)
Odds they bid: 1/10
Odds they win: 3/1
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