US VOD site Hulu is now talking with British broadcasters about creating a UK version of the service, in the wake of failed Project Kangaroo. NBCU International president Peter Smith told me the NBC/News Corp (NYSE: NWS) venture is “talking with all the partners you’d expect”. Smith said the aim was “local partners with local content – put that rich cocktail of local and US content together”.
There has been much speculation about a Hulu UK launch, even with reports the site had talked about a tie-up with Kangaroo. We became aware late last year that Hulu does hope for international expansion, including UK, in 2009, but was waiting for the outcome of the Competition Commission’s Kangaroo inquiry to establish what programme rights it might be able to get for itself. NBCU International digital SVP Kevin Obi left in November but, with Kangaroo now blocked, the path is clearer for Hulu.
“They’re in dialogue with all the usual suspects, they have been for some time,” Smith said. “The UK is more complicated than anywhere else to have this dialogue at the moment – we just had the Kangaroo dialogue, now Canvas, and a whole set of political issues which make conversation slow. But still keen, the guys are really keen.” If an American venture run by News Corp and NBC manages to acquire programming from the public service broadcasters for an umbrella service that is much like the homegrown one the Competition Commission outlawed this year, the irony will not be lost on Kangaroo’s 50 staff, who were mostly contractors.