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August 4, 2016

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Time Warner’s stake in Hulu aims to lure viewers

TIME Warner Inc, the owner of CNN and the Cartoon Network channels, raised its profit forecast for the year and disclosed a 10 percent stake in streaming TV service Hulu.

Shares of Time Warner, which also owns the Warner Bros movie studio, rose 3.2 percent in premarket trading after the company also reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it signed up more viewers to its premium Home Box Office network.

The Hulu deal comes at a time when Time Warner is facing stiff competition from streaming services, particularly Netflix and Amazon Prime, as young viewers ditch traditional cable and shift to online services.

Time Warner's Turner unit has been trying to woo younger viewers by offering full seasons of its shows such as “Angie Tribeca” and “Public Morals” for “binge-watching.” The company also launched its own streaming service, “HBO Now,” last year.

Turner’s networks and Turner Classic Movies will be available live and on-demand on Hulu’s new live-streaming service, which is slated to launch early next year.

“The Hulu investment is not a surprise,” said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities.

“They want to ensure that the Turner networks have the broadest possible distribution without really compromising the traditional cable, satellite and telco channels,” Harrigan said.

Time Warner, which did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, joins Walt Disney Co, 21st Century Fox Inc and Comcast Corp as a shareholder in Hulu.

Time Warner is paying about US$580 million for the Hulu stake, Recode reported, citing sources. At that price, Hulu will have a valuation of about US$6 billion.

The company said it expects adjusted profit for the year of US$5.35-US$5.45 per share, up from its previous forecast of US$5.30-US$5.40.

Analysts were expecting full-year earnings of US$5.39 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Time Warner’s revenue from the Turner division, home to CNN, rose 6.5 percent during the quarter.

Revenue at HBO, which hosts the popular hit show “Game of Thrones,” rose 2 percent.

The company’s net income fell to US$951 million, or US1.20 per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from US971 million, or US$1.16 per share, a year earlier.


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