Yahoo would pay up to $2 billion to acquire Hulu if the deal came with four or five years of exclusive access to current TV shows and older movies, according a story in yesterday's Business Insider.
Citing a "source familiar with Yahoo's M&A plans," Business Insider said that Hulu's owners would have to guarantee the exclusive access before Yahoo's corporate development people would present such a deal to their board of directors.
However, that type of deal may be tough to swing.
Hulu's owners have reportedly been willing to offer the five years of access but only two years of exclusivity, according to Bloomberg, citing "two people with knowledge of the situation." The shorter exclusivity period would mean that TV networks would be able to offer shows on their own sites for a longer period of time. And without the full package of five years of exclusive access, Hulu is "not worth anything," Business Insider's source said.
A slew of potential buyers have reportedly been talking to Hulu about grabbing the company from its current owners--Walt Disney, News Corp., Comcast, and equity firm Providence Equity Partners. The talks have taken place amid comments earlier this month by Disney CEO Robert Iger that its owners are "committed to selling" Hulu, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and other sources.
Reports have pointed to Google, Amazon, and Microsoft as eager parties. Yahoo seemed to kick off the bidding in June with an initial buyout offer. Since then, though, a host of other suitors have also apparently been wooing the online video service.
Hulu itself has since hired investment banks to oversee its possible sale. But at least one suitor seems to have lost interest.
Microsoft has reportedly told Hulu that it's decided not to continue into the next round of bidding, according to Bloomberg, citing information from "a person with knowledge of the matter." However, that person didn't rule out the possibility that Microsoft could jump back into the bidding later on. Hulu's investment bankers at Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners had met with Microsoft over the past few weeks to try to land an offer, added Bloomberg.
A request for comment from Hulu was not immediately returned. Representatives for Yahoo and Microsoft each told CNET that their respective company does not comment on rumors or speculation.