To everyone who entered a bid to try and buy Hulu: Apparently, you didn’t offer enough. According to a statement released yesterday by Hulu joint owners the Walt Disney Corporation, News Corporation and Providence Equity Partners (as well as senior Hulu management), the owners have “terminated the sale process” for the company, due to its “unique and compelling strategic value.”
The traditional “sources familiar with the situation” are saying that the change of heart wasn’t because of the size of the bids, but because the owners couldn’t agree to how much content would be included in the sale. While I’m sure both factors played into the decision, I doubt that the fact that Hulu Plus met its paid subscriber target months ahead of schedule went entirely unnoticed, either.
Since Hulu was originally put up for sale, in fact, it’s seemed to become more valuable; not only the success of Hulu Plus, but the revelation that Netflix’s streaming content is at least 50% television, suggesting that there is already a sizable paying audience out there for what Hulu is offering, if positioned correctly. That repositioning may be part of the thinking behind plans to add a second tier of subscription service.
The decision not to sell undoubtedly disappoints the big ticket would-be buyers who had grand designs for the brand—sorry, Google, Dish and Apple—but it may mean that the current owners have realized what they have in their hands right now, and how powerful it can be if given the proper treatment and time.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.