CBS Responds To Hulu In Equally Terse Terms: 'Well Within Rights'


Granted, CBS was a little busy with earnings Wednesday but it took the company a day to come up with a comeback to Hulu’s assertion that it was within its “contractual rights ” to yank its programming from CBS Interactive’s revamped The response: “CBS Interactive is well within its rights to stream Hulu video content on under its agreement with Hulu. We are evaluating our next steps at this time.”

Maybe the two can do the next round in haiku.

Why is this even going on? One answer: Hulu the portal has become more important to the JV and the portal is missing an ingredient that just about everyone else has thanks to Quincy Smith’s push for ubiquity: CBS programming. Because of the distribution deal CNET signed with Hulu pre-launch, had access to the JV’s exclusive content as well as that of CBS (which had a CNET deal before even before it acquired the company). Others, including EchoStar’s and Comcast’s Fancast, have access to Hulu and CBS (NYSE: CBS). But the JV is stuck with featuring links to CBS in its video search engine; it can’t show episodes from the high-rated line-up in its player.

Another answer that comes up repeatedly when I talk to various parties with an interest is ego. Whose ego varies depending on the conversation: the list includes CBS Interactives’ Smith ; CBS CEO Leslie Moonves; NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker (not over this so much but in terms of overall relations with Moonves). Smith and Moonves said no to an equity deal before the NBCU-News Corp (NYSE: NWS). JV was announced that would have added CBS programming to Hulu and have resisted various deals since, including, I hear, a more recent version that would have included a smaller amount of equity.

In the meantime, each is giving up an avenue of access to consumers — and the revenue, however small now, that goes with it.

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