Although it’s early days, it looks as though Apple might be eyeing up the purchase of US online video service Hulu. If this deal does eventually happen, it might be a good way for Hulu to side-step the negotiating problems with UK rights owners which have bedeviled their launch in the UK.

By selling out to Apple they would pass that problem on to someone else – a giant with great negotiating strength that is used to securing worldwide clearances on good terms, even from major content owners.

There may be a price for Hulu to pay, though. For Hulu, the absence of such clearances presumably reduces the valuation of the company somewhat, because it reduces the scope of their existing offering. Of course if the deal actually happens, the position changes, because for Apple the ability to procure UK clearance is effectively negotiating “coinage”. It’s easy for Apple to bring to the table, like loose change. Apple then benefits from the increased valuation of Hulu once the clearances have been obtained, so they potentially benefits from the UK position both before and after the deal. I believe this is called having your cake and eating it….