If this comes to pass, Apple purchasing Hulu would alter television distribution to a degree that we’ve not yet seen before. The ramifications of such a purchase would be felt wide. It would also practically confirm the rumours that Apple are set to launch an actual Apple TV.
A couple of weeks ago on White Noise I pondered the notion that Apple may be set to launch a TV product. It’s the one screen in our lives that they don’t haven’t yet made a concentrated bid for. TV would open up an entirely new market for applications as well as provide a distribution point for TV’s and movies sold through the iTunes store. The only question that I couldn’t resolve in my mind was this: With the marketplace proving that viewers are keen to watch cloud-based content on demand via services like Netflix and Hulu, where does this leave transactional purchases like the type iTunes store consumers make when buying TV shows/movies? Apple purchasing Hulu completely addresses this.
Rebranding Hulu as an Apple product serves not only as the ‘killer app’ that Apple need to get a product like the Apple TV the attention it requires, but it also provides them the opportunity to control the availability of content. While it may make it difficult to sell many episodes of The Daily Show, it’s easy to picture a scenario in which Apple provide lower demand content via a free/cheap subscription service while saving premium content for their iTunes store – directing viewers to the store through the Hulu app in much the same way that a service like Netflix informs the viewer that the content they require is only available through their DVD delivery service.
Apple have proven this week that they have the money to spend. This could well be $2b well spent.