Walt Disney Company is taking an equity stake in Hulu.com, the Web's third most popular pit stop for video, according to the AP. The site, originally a joint venture between NBC Universal and Fox parent News Corp, will now have access to hundreds of television episodes and movies from Disney and its ABC network.
Popular episodes of ABC shows like Lost and Grey's Anatomy will appear on the site the day after they air, just as shows from NBC and Fox do. While that will surely bring in a new following of TV watchers to boost Hulu's uniques, Disney is also earning its place in the new triumvirate by investing the same amount of capital the two other companies fronted when they started the site in March of 2007. Although the exact financial terms are confidential, the three content providers will reportedly split all costs and revenues roughly three ways.
Disney will get three seats on Hulu's 12-person board, alongside NBC and Fox. Providence Private Equity Partners also own a roughly $100 million stake in the site, and some of the site's employees own equity in the company as well, making it hard to judge how Disney's addition will affect the valuation of the company. Share prices of the three partners rose an average of 4% after the announcement.