Walt Disney Co has reached a deal to become a partner in the popular Hulu video website founded by NBC Universal and News Corp, the media company said on Thursday.
Disney had been in talks with General Electric Co's NBC Universal and News Corp for some time about joining Hulu, and negotiations had picked up in recent weeks, sources have said. A deal will add full-length episodes of TV shows from its ABC broadcast network like Lost, Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives to the site.
Disney is the only other media company to join as an equity partner, taking an ownership stake along with NBC Universal, News Corp, Providence Equity Partners and employees. While other media companies provide content to the website, none hold an equity stake.
Disney, which will gain three seats on the Hulu board, has sought to expand viewership of the ad-supported ABC shows offered on ABC.com and Web sites of its local TV affiliates, on AOL.com, and Comcast Corp's Fancast site.
ABC was the first major broadcast network to offer prime time programing online, while Disney also sells movies and TV episodes on Apple Inc's iTunes.
(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)