Time Warner could become the latest media giant to invest in American on-demand platform Hulu.
The Wall Street Journal reports Time Warner has been in talks with current owners Comcast, The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox about becoming an equal stakeholder in the platform.
This would mean each of those companies, whose stakes currently sit around 33.3%, would drop down to 25%, with Time Warner also taking a quarter of the shareholding.
A deal is likely to value Hulu at around US$5 billion to US$6 billion. It would also mean only CBS Corp. is the only media group with a US broadcast network that doesn’t have a stake in Hulu.
CBS has chosen to go its own route with its CBS All Access platform, which recently announced a new Stars Trek series as its first exclusive original.
Time Warner owns the Burbank-based Warner Bros. studio; and Turner Broadcasting System, which houses TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network; and premium cable HBO.
According to WSJ sources, the current backers see Time Warner investment as giving Hulu a better footing against the increasingly powerful Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
They had tried to sell the company back in 2013, with Time Warner Cable – spun out of Time Warner in March 2009 – considered to be a frontrunner for an acquisition at the time.
The sale process was scrapped and the partners then injected US$750 million in the business. Reports at the time suggested a 25% stake sale to TWC could have still gone ahead.
Hulu made an equity loss in the recent quarter ending October 3 due to higher content and marketing outlays, which have rocketed over the past 18 months, but investment will continue to go up in the next year, Disney revealed last week.