Walt Disney Co. has reached a deal to take a nearly 30% stake in the popular Hulu video website and will offer full episodes of its ABC TV shows on the site.
The agreement comes after months of talks between Disney and Hulu that was founded by General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal and News Corp. While other media companies provide content to the website, none hold an equity stake.
Disney will provide Hulu with full-length ad-supported episodes from ABC, SoapNet, and ABC Family. Some of the shows include Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, and Scrubs.
Disney will invest capital and marketing dollars in a similar amount to each of NBC Universal and News Corp., which invested a combined $100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
ABC was the first major broadcast network to offer prime time programming online, while Disney also sells movies and TV episodes on Apple Inc's iTunes.
Hulu's website traffic is steadily rising and moved into third place in the online video rankings in March, according to the digital entertainment rating agency comScore.
The site, which was launched last year, aired 380 million videos last month, surpassing Yahoo’s 335 million.
Online video is still dominated by YouTube, a Google Inc. subsidiary, on which viewers watched nearly 6 billion clips – almost 14 times the number of second-place Fox Interactive Media, which is fully owned by News Corp.