ITV finalizing Hulu deal

British net would gain minority stake in web service

LONDON -- ITV is on the verge of signing an exclusive content deal with Hulu -- the online video platform co-owned by Disney, News Corp. and NBC Universal -- that it hopes will give it an edge over rivals including the BBC.

The deal would give Hulu users access to a range of exclusive ITV content and would give Britain's leading commercial network a minority stake in Hulu U.K., sources said Tuesday.

Last week, the BBC's commercial division Worldwide struck a deal with U.K. online video operator Blinkbox, giving viewers paid access to hit TV shows such as "Doctor Who," "Spooks" and "Hotel Babylon.”

The frenzy to close deals for paid-for or advertising supported online content comes as such platforms as Microsoft’s Xbox, Sky Anytime and Virgin Media move into the VOD download market.

The U.K. market opened up to overseas competition after U.K. media regulator Ofcom nixed Project Kangaroo, a domestic online video platform backed this year by an alliance of U.K. broadcasters.

Hulu is understood to be negotiating content deals in exchange for partnership deals or minority stakes with a range of U.K. players, according to people close to the talks.
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