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April 30, 2009

ABC to offer shows on Hulu

This is a major step for Hulu, now claiming the bulk of the major broadcast networks under one umbrella site/player. Sure Hulu still doesn't have CBS, but that network's crime procedurals are typically not the biggest online draws anyway. Though at some point Hulu has to figure out a way to address the biggest gripe of many users -- blocking streams from out of the country, which is a tricky issue in terms of content rights and advertising. Here's Nellie Andreeva with more...

By Nellie Andreeva

After weeks of speculation, Disney on Thursday announced that it has joined NBC Universal, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners as a joint venture partner and equity owner of video content aggregator Hulu.

Under the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, Hulu will offer full-length episodes of current and library Disney TV programs such as "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives," "Private Practice," "Ugly Betty," "Scrubs," "Greek" and "General Hospital," which will be streamed on an ad-supported basis.

"From our landmark iTunes deal to our pioneering decision to stream ad supported shows on our ABC.com player, Disney has sought to meet the constantly evolving viewing habits of our consumers, and today's Hulu announcement is the next important step in that ongoing journey," Disney president and CEO Bob Iger said.

Added said Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu: "We're honored to welcome the Disney team in our mission to help people find and enjoy the world's premium content, when, where and how they want it."

Following the closing, content available to Hulu users will include:

Speculation about Disney joining Hulu as an equity partner surfaced a month ago. At the time, Disney announced a pact with Hulu's rival YouTube that covered only clips from ABC and ESPN programs.

As an equity partner, Disney will have three seats on the Hulu board that will be held by Iger; Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group; and Kevin Mayer, executive vp corporate strategy, business development and technology. All other current directors from News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence will remain on the Hulu board.

Available on Hulu under the pact with Disney will be:

-- Full-length episodes of ABC primetime programs such as "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy."

-- Full-length episodes of hit ABC Family series including "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" and "Greek."

-- Popular series from ABC Daytime and SoapNet such as "General Hospital" and "The View."

-- Classic series from ABC's library including "Hope & Faith," "Less Than Perfect" and "Commander in Chief"

-- Select hit programs from Disney Channel like "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Phineas and Ferb," which can be easily accessed from a new Disney location in the channel section of Hulu.com.

-- Popular library titles from the Walt Disney Studios.

-- Shortform content including webisodes, sneak peeks and episode recaps from ABC Entertainment, ABC Family and SoapNet.


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