A story of multiple marriages: HBO and Tivo, Hulu and Magnolia Pictures, and more to come

It’s a confusing world, out there.

Hulu and Magnolia Pictures recently entered an output licensing agreement, just when the deal between Magnolia and Netflix had come to a conclusion after three years. Hulu will release exclusively on its SVOD platform the films produced by Magnolia, after their theatrical release.

If that sounds like the regular licensing deal, we should also take a look at what HBO has been up to. In 2016 the Time Warner company has in fact inked a deal with TiVO that will allow HBO to access the TiVo patent portfolios and the over-the-top assets of Intellectual Ventures (which signed a deal with Rovi – the company that acquired TiVO in 2016 – last year to combine their patents).

Confused much? Let’s simplify it then: OTT players are converging towards multiple, co-existing partnerships to increase exposure and watch time, acquire more customers, sell more ads. All of the above is obviously more achievable if the platforms of exposure increase in number.

Partnerships. This is only the beginning. As Hulu seems to be heading towards a live TV offering along with the regular SVOD free and ad free options, Disney (that owns Hulu at 30%, along with NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox and Time Warner – the latter owning HBO) had already agreed with Hulu to its releases (not exclusively) and so did Epix and IFC Films, the latter for a documentaries licensing agreement.

Hulu. Last, a few thoughts about Hulu. The Santa Monica company has been working hard to pose itself as a valuable alternative to Netflix and traditional live TV, so the latest move – offering a live TV “skinny bundle” at $40/month – seems to be a major shift from the initial value proposition. The price point, additionally, seems too high and might neutralize the efforts to bring quality content to the platform by diluting the portfolio with too many “crowd pleasers”. However, venturing into original content, the number of strong partnerships and the push on advertising are a testament to the commitment of the company. Whether this is too little, too late that’s another story.




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