Hulu is no longer for sale -- and its current owners claim their strategies for the Internet TV site are fully in sync.
On Friday, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Co. jointly announced that they will maintain their respective ownership positions in Hulu and together provide a cash infusion of $750 million "to propel future growth."
DirecTV, a combo bid from AT&T and Chernin Group, and Time Warner Cable had been the last three contenders.
Hulu's owners were originally hoping to bring in $2 billion for the company, but bids had come in at less than $1 billion. It's not known what the final offers from DirecTV, AT&T-Chernin and TWC (which was seeking a partial ownership stake) were.
"Hulu has emerged as one of the most consumer-friendly, technologically innovative viewing platforms in the digital era," Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "As its evolution continues, Disney and its partners are committing resources to enable Hulu to achieve its maximum potential."
Chase Carey, prexy and COO of 21st Century Fox, commented, "We had meaningful conversations with a number of potential partners and buyers, each with impressive plans and offers to match, but with 21st Century Fox and Disney fully aligned in our collective vision and goals for the business, we decided to continue to empower the Hulu team, in this fashion, to continue the incredible momentum they've built over the last few years."
SEE ALSO: Hulu's Executive Exodus Accelerates
News Corp. and NBC launched Hulu in 2008, as a response to the rise of YouTube and other online-video sites. The media companies were looking for a way to aggregate premium TV content in a way they could control and monetize. Disney came on board in 2009.
In 2011, Hulu's parents had previously looked to unload their joint venture, but similarly called that off after engaging in discussions with interested buyers reported to have included Google, Yahoo, Dish Network and Amazon.
Hulu now has more than 400 content partners and boasts more than 30 million monthly unique visitors, according to the company. In 2010, it launched Hulu Plus, an $8-per-month service that provides additional content not available on the free site, including past seasons of many TV series. Hulu Plus has more than 4 million subscribers.
DirectTV and Chernin with AT&T had been viewed as front-runners, but sources close to the Hulu talks had cautioned that 21st Century Fox, NBCU and Disney were just as close to pulling Hulu off the market as completing a sale.
While Hulu's ownership picture is clear, there are still myriad questions surrounding its future strategic direction. Will the streaming service continue its hybrid model of free ad-supported and monthly subscription fees? Disney and 21st Century Fox (which has split off from News Corp) have had different opinions on the matter, and it's not clear whether their keeping Hulu means there's a final resolution on that front.
Meanwhile, it's an open question as to whether their holding on to Hulu would preclude another investor coming in and joining them. Time Warner Cable was mentioned during the bidding process as potentially interested in taking a stake, as Providence Equity Group once did before bailing as a fourth partner once it turned a profit
Since the second round of Hulu negotiations got underway earlier this year, Hulu has seen the departure of many high-level execs including CEO Jason Kilar, who had clashed with the company's owners over strategy. He was replaced on an interim basis by senior veep of content Andy Forssell; Hulu's owners had initiated a search for a full-time CEO but it's not clear if that is still the plan.
Hulu had a fourth investor -- Providence Equity Partners -- whose 10% stake NBCU, Disney and 21st Century Fox bought out last October.
(Andrew Wallenstein and Rachel Abrams contributed to this report.)