Forget the speculation that Peter Chernin has lost interest in teaming with AT&T to bid for Hulu ahead of the Friday deadline for final offers. He and the telco will be there, along with a group that’s expected to include DirecTV, Guggenheim Digital, investment firm KKR, Silver Lake Partners with WME, and Time Warner Cable — with Yahoo a question mark. Some people began to wonder about Chernin’s intentions Monday after Fox unveiled a deal to license shows to Netfllix. The arrangement meant that Hulu lost its access to full seasons of the Chernin Entertainment-produced sitcom New Girl. (It will only be able to offer a few episodes at a time.) Yet we’re told that he’s still eager to help AT&T. Company watchers say that the telco’s intrigued by the possibility of turning Hulu into the centerpiece of a new wireless video business that would ask studios to help pay for the costs to transmit video to mobile devices. It was a coup for the company to align with Chernin who’s popular in Hollywood and helped to develop Hulu back when he was No. 2 at News Corp.
The big question is how much bidders will offer for Hulu. Fox and Disney want about $1B. (Comcast also is a co-owner but relinquished its control over Hulu’s affairs as a condition to win government approval to buy NBCUniversal.) But some who were willing to kick the tires after Guggenheim Partners was hired to manage the sale have lost interest. They’ve grappled with questions about what programming they could offer, and the firm’s thinning management ranks. The conventional wisdom is that DirecTV remains the bidder to beat. Hulu could help distinguish its TV Everywhere service.