Will Hulu Become An Online Cable Provider?

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Just because Hulu may be a leader in the field of Internet TV doesn’t mean that it’s resting on its laurels – or that it won’t be torn apart by internal disagreements. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Hulu is undergoing a number of behind-the-scenes arguments that could result in massive changes in direction for the company in the near future.

The topic causing all the trouble is apparently the amount of free content available on the service. Both Fox parent News Corp. and ABC owner Disney are said to be considering pulling some of their programming from the unpaid offerings, but those changes pale in comparison to the possibility that Hulu will be turned into what the WSJ describes as “an online cable operator that would use the Web to send live TV channels and video-on-demand content to subscribers.” In other words, just like Google TV, FilmOn and all those other TV-on-the-internet ventures that the networks have done so much to try to stop.

The battle for the future of Hulu comes at an unusual time for the company; one of the FCC’s prerequisites for the recently-approved Comcast/NBC Universal merger means that NBC Uni has to withdraw from management decisions concerning Hulu, leaving Fox and ABC the two controlling bodies on whether or not to move towards the online cable provider option at the same time as content licenses are coming up for renewal (Also reportedly on the table: Doubling the subscription price of Hulu Plus and delaying the release of content to Hulu for up to two weeks after broadcast). Hulu CEO Jason Kilar is remaining impressively calm about the situation, telling reporters that he’ll wait and see what happens: “When we blaze trails, which is what Hulu is about, it takes time. That is not for the faint of heart, and we understand that.”

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