The Walt Disney Company is joining web video site Hulu as an equity partner. Disney joins NBC Universal, News Corp. and Providence Equity as a JV partner in the fast growing site.
As a result of the deal, a slate of full episodes from the Disney-ABC Television Group will appear on the site, including Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars, Ugly Betty, Private Practice, Scrubs, Wizards of Waverly Place, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, General Hospital, The View, Greek and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
"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," said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. "Disney and Hulu share a focus on delivering the highest-quality entertainment experience and we look forward to working with Hulu to build value for our consumers, our brands and our shareholders."
The hope for ABC is that expanding their online presence into Hulu will have an additive effect on television viewing. According to Comscore, only about 8% of the ABC.com audience uses Hulu while around 13% of Hulu viewers use ABC.com. Those low numbers reveal an opportunity for the network to generate viewers beyond their loyal audience.
CBS, the last of the major networks that has not made a deal to join Hulu, released a statement reading: "CBS has long employed open, non-exclusive content partnerships that allow fans across the internet to engage with our programming in such a way that we control our distribution, sales and profit. We continue to discuss similar arrangements with additional partners as we grow our online audience based on the strength of our content, and the passion of the communities it creates. The company also believes that controlling our own rights for that content --in all media--preserves its value in a multi-platform business system."