Apple is planning to buy online TV player Hulu

22 Jul 2011

In what can be the clearest indication yet that Apple may be moving in the direction of eventually making its own TVs, it has emerged the technology giant is making a play to acquire Hulu. The battle for the living room is on!

Hulu is one of the most popular online video-on-demand services in the US and would give Apple ownership of a valuable and respected subscriptions service. After posting quarterly revenues of US$28.5bn and profits of US$7.3bn, Apple is believed to be the world’s second-most valuable company.

Hulu is owned by Walt Disney, News Corp and Comcast, which owns NBC.

According to reports, Apple is in talks that may lead to an offer for Hulu.

Apple has more than US$80bn of cash sitting in the bank, a war chest no doubt ripe for interesting acquisitions.

Could Apple be a major force in HD TV?

Apple already offers video-on-demand products via iTunes, such as music videos, movies and hit TV show boxsets for download. It also has the Apple TV product, a mini set-top box that via Wi-Fi brings video from the internet onto the full HD screen. Devices like the iPad, iPod and iPhone would also benefit from access to on-demand TV apps.

Hulu, which is currently only available in the US, offers ad-supported, on-demand streaming of TV shows, movies and webisodes and no doubt would give Apple considerable edge and a ready-made audience for future moves into the TV space.

For years now, commentators have been saying that Apple, with its talent for design and effective technology supply chain expertise, could eventually produce its own HD TV products.

Having a critical content hub like Hulu, as well as iTunes, and eventually a well-planned out TV App Store, could serve the Apple empire well.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years