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Is Hulu doomed?

Free sites like gives users the power

Free sites like gives users the power to see the latest episodes of their favorite shows whenever they want. Credit: Hulu screengrab

  There's an ominous development at Hulu - at least ominous for fans of this extraordinary site, of which I am one: It has been put on the block. 

  The sites owners, which include Disney, Fox and NBC, have hired an investment banker to explore a sale after reportedly getting an unsolicited offer. What could this mean for Hulu and its future? Unclear, but the site has turned into an unintentional headache for the owners, trying to get big carriage fee boosts out of cable operators for their programming, when the cable operators can turn around and say that the programming they're paying more money for is being give away for free on the web! Not a bad argument with the added benefit of being true. (The networks do that on their own sites as well, so they are in the odd position of competing with themselves....)

  In fact, Hulu Plus now charges about ten bucks a month for full season re-runs and other content, but Netflix is in the same ballpark, and has more or less current movies to boot, so Hulu hasn't exactly made inroads against that competitor. 

  Nevertheless, Hulu has great value to TV fans, and now they - we - have to wonder what's next. An obvious concern is that if Hulu is sold to a non-TV entity, that company would then have to renegotiate carriage fees for all the shows currently on Hulu, which could/would mean a boost in the fees subscribers pay. Or, perhaps, content would be slashed and Hulu would turn into a lesser version of itself, like Fancast.  

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