Will Apple Buy Hulu?

Online video service Hulu is still looking for a buyer and now that Apple has disclosed in its earnings report that it has $80 billion in cash -- the Cupertino, Calif. is looking like the frontrunner.

Apple is now in talks to buy the service owned by Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast's NBC Universal, an unnamed source told Bloomberg News.

"Part of the ecosystem of Apple’s future is to include more video,” said Scott Sutherland, Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst in San Francisco who recommends buying the stock. “It’s something they are focused on.”

Meredith Kendall, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Hulu, declined to comment, as did Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for . . . Apple.

Hulu’s price tag could exceed $2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and SNL Kagan.

Microsoft has already dropped out of the running for Hulu, while Yahoo said it would offer $2 billion for the service, but only with five-year contracts of exclusive television programming. Google and AT&T are among the other companies interested in Hulu.

Fortunately or unfortunately, just taking a meeting with Hulu executives is enough to elicit talks of a deal. So far, Hulu has met Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and now Apple. Will any of them pull the trigger and pay $2 billion for a company that's only guaranteed programming to last two years? That's a pretty steep price for such a short-lived deal, and maybe none of the companies will decide to buy.

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