Hulu sells international business to Nippon

Nippon TV has acquired the international business of streaming and catch-up service Hulu.

The Japanese free-to-air broadcast group will take control of the SVOD service this spring assuming the necessary regulatory approvals are forthcoming.

The deal marks Hulu’s withdrawal from the international market. Amid several changes in its ownership structure Hulu will now focus on its domestic US business.

In the past it has touted international ambitions and has talked to content providers in the UK and other territories although never managed to launch anywhere internationally aside from Japan where it rolled out as a subscription service in September 2011.

The Japanese Hulu has 13,000 episodes of content from about 50 different providers. The deal involves Nippon licensing the Hulu brand and technology and providing the necessary support to run the service in Japan. No financial terms were disclosed.

“In addition to terrestrial broadcasting and [satellite] broadcasting, Nippon TV is looking forward to succeeding Hulu’s business as a new path to deliver content through the Internet,” said Yoshio Okubo, president, Nippon TV. “Hulu’s sophisticated brand, wide content line-up, and its outstanding technology are very attractive. We feel a big potential in the brand and service Hulu has created.”

In a blog post Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said: “We have now reached a point in the growth of the business in Japan where we feel the best path forward is to sell the company to a strategic buyer.” He added: “I’m confident that the Hulu business in Japan is in very good hands, and Nippon TV will take the service to new heights, with the added benefit of allowing us to focus on our growing business here in the US.”

Hulu is a joint venture between NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox, and The Walt Disney Company.

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