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Hulu weighs giving UK b’casters equity ahead of mooted September launch

Hulu is considering giving UK broadcasters equity stakes in soon-to-launch Hulu UK, in an effort to persuade them to make their content available.

The NBC, News Corp and Disney backed online catch-up service is expected to launch in the UK this September and stakes are understood to have been offered to public broadcaster the BBC, its commercial arm BBC Worldwide as well as the UK’s two largest free-to-air commercial broadcasters ITV and Channel 4.

TBI-sister publication New Media Markets quotes an executive familiar with the situation as saying: “It’s no secret that Hulu is actively looking to do deals in the UK and there are only one or two broadcasters worth providing that kind of equity incentive to.”

No official announcement has been forthcoming, but having proved a major success in the US, where it launched in October 2007, Hulu is expected to start its international roll out in the UK this September. But it has struggled to secure UK rights for programming, thus the motivation to tie in major broadcast partners.

In the US, Hulu is the third most popular online video site behind those operated by YouTube and Fox Interactive. Disney became an equity partner earlier this month when it made its series available on the service.

NBC bosses have said previously that they want to launch Hulu will launch in the UK, France, Germany and Japan, countries where there is a high penetration of broadband-enabled homes and a desire for US programming.