Online video service Hulu is exploring putting itself up for sale after receiving an unsolicited takeover offer, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
The offer was large enough to make Hulu's board review the deal and consider seeking other potential buyers, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are confidential. The person would not disclose the amount of the offer nor the bidder.
Hulu has become one of the biggest purveyors of television shows and movies on the Internet through its free site and via an $8-per-month subscription plan that gives users a deeper library of shows from ABC, Fox and NBC. The free site is available on computers, but the subscription plan allows for viewing over a wide array of Internet-connected game consoles and mobile devices.
In February, CEO Jason Kilar said Hulu will have 1 million paying customers by the end of the year and generate nearly $500 million in revenue, up from $263 million in 2010. He has said the company is profitable.
The sale talk comes about five months after cable TV and Internet service provider Comcast Corp. completed its takeover of NBC Universal, which owns more than 25 percent of Hulu. As a condition of that deal, the federal government forced Comcast to give up decision-making power over that stake to allow for greater competition in the burgeoning online video market.
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Hulu is also jointly owned by The Walt Disney Co., Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and Providence Equity Partners. Hulu is now preparing to hire bankers to start a formal search process, the person said.
The development was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, which is also owned by News Corp.
A Hulu spokeswoman declined to comment.