Hulu considers putting itself up for sale

Insiders familiar with Hulu are saying that the streaming video service is considering selling itself after receiving an unsolicited takeover offer.

According to The Associated Press, the offer was big enough to make Hulu’s brain trust look over the deal and consider seeking out other potential buyers, said the anonymous insiders. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are confidential.

They would not reveal the amount of the offer or who the bidder was.

Hulu has made itself into one of the most comprehensive suppliers of television shows and movies on the Internet through its free site and via an $8-per-month subscription service that gives users access to a deeper library of shows from ABC, Fox and NBC. The free site is available on computers, but the subscription service allows viewing on a wide variety of Internet-connected game consoles and mobile devices.

Hulu CEO, Jason Kilar, said in February that Hulu will have 1 million paying customers at the end of the year and make almost $500 million in profit, an increase from $263 million in 2010. He claims that the company is profitable.

The talk of a sale comes roughly five months after cable TV and Internet service mega-giant Comcast Corp. finalized its takeover of NBC Universal, which holds more than 25 percent ownership of Hulu. As a requirement of that deal, the federal government made Comcast give up decision-making power over that stake to provide greater competition in the growing online video market.

The Walt Disney Co., Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and Providence Equity Partners all have ownership claims to Hulu. They are now getting ready to hire some bankers to begin a formal search process, the people said.

This development was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal, which is also owned by News Corp.

A spokeswoman for Hulu declined to comment.