There has been a lot of buzz over the past several days about Apple acquiring Hulu. Surprisingly, a lot of people are in favor of it. As a cable cutter and Hulu user, I don’t see why. An Apple acquisition would be the end of Hulu as we know it.
Apple is a company that is fueled by organic growth. That’s not to say they don’t acquire, but their acquisition strategy is clearly to buy companies for their technology, patents, people, etc. and use those assets to bolster Apple’s core products. Apple does not buy companies to operate subsidiaries at arms length.
So what does this mean for Hulu?
It means that if Apple bought Hulu, it would have no interest in maintaining the free catch-up TV service. An acquisition would most likely be used by Apple to bolster TV episode rentals in iTunes (expanded content partnerships, shorter lag between airing and web availability, etc.).
What’s also unclear is how Apple’s ecosystem approach would impact Hulu. Hulu+ Android Apps – gone. Hulu on a PC – probably safe but you have to use iTunes (@#$%@!). Hulu on Roku, Boxee, gaming consoles, etc. – kiss them goodbye. On the flipside, however, those that are already Apple ecosystem devotees (or prisoners) would probably gain some benefits such as the expanded portfolio of content.
What does all of this mean for Hulu users?
It means that instead of watching free catch-up TV, you would be paying Apple $0.99 per episode. All of sudden my cable cutting would become more expensive than a cable subscription.
At the end of the day, Apple, Apple fanboys and fangirls, and cable operators should be happy about this prospect. Hulu users, however, should be worried and thinking about the lesser evil – Apple or Comcast.