The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday agreed to form a venture partnership with NBC Universal, News Corp., and Providence Equity Partners to become an equity owner of Hulu, an online video site.
Disney said it would enhance Hulu's program offerings while expanding Disney's distribution of its most popular current and past prime-time series and feature films. Hulu will stream full-length episodes of popular shows, using an ad-supported model, the companies said.
Robert Iger, president and CEO of Disney, said the move is the latest in a series of steps Disney has taken to meet the changing needs and habits of viewers.
"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," he said in a statement.
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said his company welcomes Disney as a partner in delivering premium content to viewers "when, where, and how they want it.
"With the addition of shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and many more to Hulu, we continue to aspire to deliver a service that users, advertisers, and content owners unabashedly love," he said in a statement.
Hulu has three major networks under its umbrella, representing more than 150 content providers and more than 200 brand advertisers.
"Hulu is a bright spot in the new media landscape," Providence CEO Jonathan Nelson said in a statement.
The company will offer a new "Disney" section in its channel listings, and Disney will gain three seats on Hulu's board. They will be filled by Iger; Anne Sweeney, Disney Media Networks' co-chair and Disney/ABC Television Group president; and Kevin Mayer, executive VP of corporate strategy for business development and technology. Hulu's directors from News Corp., NBC Universal, and Providence will remain on the board.
Regulators must approve the transaction, and financial terms have not been disclosed.
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