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NYC TV Week: DirecTV’s White Wishes Company Had Acquired Hulu

Says TV Business Has 'To Get Smarter Together' about Bundling 10/29/2013 5:34 PM Eastern

DirecTV CEO Mike White said he wishes the company’s bid to buy Hulu had succeeded, but he’s open to other deals.

“It was a unique opportunity,” he said at NYC Television Week. Unfortunately, there aren’t many broad-based, general distribution over-the-top companies for sale, he said. “But I look at a lot of things.”

“We thought (Hulu) was a unique opportunity to serve millennials and we thought we could do something with it. We knew there were some things that need to be fixed. We had a plan,” he told Multichannel News editor-in-chief Mark Robichaux.

Hulu’s owners Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast opted to take it off the auction block last summer and instead bolster it with $750 million in new capital.

Meanwhile, White continues to fly the flag for an urgent need to keep distribution costs in check. Retransmission costs rose 50% this year, he said. Programming costs are way up, led by sports which is growing by double digits. The industry “can’t raise prices 8-10% a year forever. It’s not sustainable,” he said.

The answer isn’t selling programming on an a la carte basis. “But we need to create smaller bundles, or some greater flexibility for the consumers to have some say over the most expensive programming.”

He and other operators have been saying this for years. So how?

“Only if distributors can somehow stand up and have the courage to call into question in a couple of case. It’s not going to happen overnight. The consumer is not happy.”

September