The real challenge to the future of video distribution comes not from traditional sources but from places like cable companies’ on-demand delivery and Netflix. And while at the moment, Netflix and Apple are allies in this fight against the content creators, I wouldn’t expect that state of affairs to last indefinitely, especially as Netflix is getting into the content production business itself.
Nor is the acquisition without precedent. Apple acquired music-streaming site Lala in 2009, despite the fact that Apple’s hold on the music industry was largely unchallenged. In TV, it has no such dominance—the market remains heavily fragmented. So there are plenty of potential gains to be made.
None of this is to say that Apple will absolutely buy Hulu; these are just early talks, after all. Buying Hulu would certainly be a gamble for Apple, but the bet is that the company could make Hulu a more attractive proposition than the content providers can running the site for themselves. As strange as that might seem, consider this: The content providers are neither media-delivery companies nor technology companies. Apple is both. So while it might not be time to break out the champagne just yet, it seems as though Hulu and Apple might just make the perfect couple.
[Senior associate editor Dan Moren would happily pay $2 today for a TV streaming service tomorrow.]