Why DirecTV is kicking Hulu’s tires

August 5, 2011, 7:28 PM UTC
Fortune

FORTUNE — DirecTV (DTV) is considering an acquisition of Hulu, the satellite-TV firm’s CEO, Michael White, told analysts during a conference call on Thursday. But he has some reservations, particularly about the agreements Hulu has in place for content providers, and he doesn’t think Hulu is crucial to DirecTV’s “TV Everywhere” strategy.

White said:

…I don’t want to get into specific comments on an acquisition process. But I think suffice it to say, we have consistently said that we want to make sure that we can make DirectTV available anytime and anywhere our customers want it. The Hulu software has some nice aspects to it, but you also have to kind of form a judgment about its business model and what you think that business model can generate. So we look at a lot of things here and we’ll see as we go through that process where we come out. But I think what we we’re looking for is, is there something there that would enable us to accelerate our TV Everywhere? But obviously, I’d say it’s critically dependent on the distribution relationships that it has and the contracts that underpin that. So I think there’s still more for us to learn and we really haven’t made a final judgment on it. I don’t think it’s kind of something we have to have, frankly. I think it’s an interesting idea and we’re looking at it. But I mean, we are doing IP — I mean, our NFL Sunday Ticket To Go product is an IP protocol product and we know how to do the hybrid kind of, if you think of it, using the satellite, I mean, using the Internet, kind of cloud, the Internet and then IP. So I mean, our technical guys are quite comfortable with that world and so I’m sure one way or the other, we’d be able to do what we need to do with TV Everywhere.

“NFL Sunday Ticket To Go” is DirecTV’s mobile offering that allows DirectTV subscribers to watch, for an extra fee, all the Sunday NFL games on mobile devices and computers. Some non-subscribers – those who can prove they don’t have access to satellite service – can get the NFL package for $250 a year.

In noting that DirecTV’s “technical guys” are comfortable with Internet television, might White be hinting that the company is considering building out its own Hulu-like service?

Hulu’s owners — Comcast , News Corp. ., Disney and Providence Equity Partners — put the company on the block last month. Possible bidders also include Google , Apple (AAPL), AT&T and Yahoo (YHOO).

DirecTV did not respond to a request for comment.