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A Who's Who in the Hulu Bidding War

Stocks in this article: CMCSA NWS DIS GOOG YHOO AMZN

jason kilar tbi

Six companies submitted to informal bids for Hulu this week, according to sources.

About a dozen companies initially expressed interest.

The informal bids – expression of interest, really – came in between $500 million to $2 billion, with most in the upper end of that range.

Companies among the six include Yahoo, Amazon, and Google.

SK Telecom, which expressed interest at an earlier stage, did not bid.

Google, one of the six, is "hanging around the hoop."  Google has "some big ass ideas" for what it can do with Hulu, and CEO Larry Page is said to be a part of the process.

One rival bidder told us Google has to be considered the favorite to end up with Hulu, if only because it has so much cash to throw around.

Amazon is also a serious contender.  A source close to Hulu says Amazon is interested for two reasons. It plans to go beyond Amazon Prime as a vehicle for streaming movies and TV. It also plans to launch a tablet, and imagines that the Hulu brand will help market it. There's also the relationship between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his former employee, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar.

Yahoo is very interested in Hulu. One source close to the company says the board is "not there yet," and might torpedo a deal. Another source says Yahoo cofounder and influential board member Jerry Yang is "neutral to positive" on the deal.

Apple was one of the dozen or so companies that initially took a look at Hulu, but it did not move into the latest round of bidding.

As expected, Microsoft was not involved in the bidding.

There remains a chance that News Corp and Disney will decide not to sell Hulu. ( Comcast is also an owner, but it has no vote.)

"These things are hard to come by," says a source, who points out that "traditional media companies" like News Corp and Disney are "oh-for-lifetime" when it comes to building successful new media properties like Hulu.

The reason Disney and News Corp would sell, meanwhile, has less to do with getting a pile of cash up front and more to do with selling Hulu to a company that put resources into making it a long-term viable competitor to Netflix – and thereby drive up online licensing fees.

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