Sense Of Entitlement? TV Show Creator Wants A Cut Of Hulu IPO Proceeds

from the did-you-invest? dept

AdamR points us to yet another sickening example of the serious sense of entitlement held by entertainment industry execs. Steven Levitan, a Hollywood producer of various TV shows is apparently pissed off that Hulu might be going public. He apparently complained on Twitter about how unfair it was that the makers of the shows wouldn't get a cut of any IPO proceeds:
"Some estimate Hulu IPO could bring in $2 billion. What do the content providers get? Zero. What is Hulu without content? An empty jukebox"
Yes, and where are those TV shows without Hulu? Most of them are shared online via unauthorized means where the content providers get nothing. When they're on Hulu, at least they do make money. Hulu is going public because of the service it provides, not because of the content. If it does well in the IPO, then it has more money to invest in the service which, in theory (if they don't muck it up -- and there are signs that they are very much mucking it up), should help the content providers make more money. To claim that they shouldn't go public without giving some of those proceeds to the content providers is totally missing the point, and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how technology and capital markets work (from a Hollywood producer? what a shock...).

But, really, this is yet another example of the entitlement mentality. Yes, the content producers made the content. That's great. But they didn't build Hulu. They didn't invest in Hulu. They didn't pay the bandwidth costs or develop the interface. They didn't pay the salaries or negotiate the licensing agreements. Yet now they just want money handed to them... even though the company already does, in fact, pay content providers for the content that it licenses? Pure entitlement. Levitan is asking for money he doesn't deserve. Anyway, if he really wants to feel better, he should be happy to note that Wall Street doesn't think much of the IPO idea.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2010 @ 11:51am

    Nobody gets into that frame of mind by being sane and rational. You can't really use logic against these people because logic never had a place in their thought processes to begin with.

    Just wait. Later on in this thread, you'll get some "U MEAN LIKE HOW PIRATES ARE ENTITLED?!!!1". Even if you calmly explain to these people not only that they are wrong, but fractally wrong, they still will not accept it because their minds are simply not configured for rational thought.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 11:53am


    I've seen this mentality again and again from people in the industry. They're promised potential windfalls down the road in exchange for doing things (relatively) cheaply up front. So, their sense of entitlement makes some kind of sense given the current business practices.

    Of course, that's exactly why Hollywood won't survive the coming upheaval. Unless they can leverage their current status to get laws to prevent such a thing, of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    AdamR (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 11:54am

    I almost spit out my drink when i read the article, i had to ask the bartender if she was slipping 151 with my coke. I was under the impression that the major networks owned a piece of Hulu? So he is bitching that networks/studios that fronted him money to make his shows might make money off an IPO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Mike Shore, 23 Aug 2010 @ 11:55am

    Empty jukebox?

    What is a TV without content? Should ABC get a cut of every TV sold? What is a CD player without content? Should the RIAA get a percetnage every time Sony sells a boom box? What is an ipod without content? Etc, etc, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    John Gardner (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 11:56am

    Re: Empty jukebox?

    don't give them any ideas

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Joseph, 23 Aug 2010 @ 11:56am

    yeah, that is one helluva service allright. In fact, the service is so great, I'd use it even WITHOUT all those great shows & movies!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:01pm


    The works are already licensed to be on Hulu. If the creators find the license to be unfavorable, they can simply get a different license. Dead easy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:07pm


    You should check out costs/prices/Taxes in both Canada (where a Pack of DVD's sell at over $25) and England where there is a surcharge on TV's and service, PER YEAR Tax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Scote, 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:08pm

    Wow, what smug sense of entitlement!!! Does Pepsi expect a cut of IPOs for grocery stores? Does Microsoft expect a cut of the IPOs for PC makers? No. They both expect to profit by selling product through those ventures. Seems to me that Steven Levitan has a short sighted, illogical, and wholly unjustified greedy sense of entitlement

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Umm,

    "England where there is a surcharge on TV's and service, PER YEAR Tax."

    ...which is wholly used to fund BBC TV and radio. I know your point, but this is rather different to handing a tax over to a private corporation who may just use the money to line their own pockets. Hell, the lack of ads during movies & radio shows is worth the cost to many Brits (though the tide is changing as competition increases).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    MarksAngel (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:26pm

    Did some research, the guy who said is the Steve Levitan co-Creator, Executive Producer of ABC's Modern Family

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Umm,

    but this is rather different to handing a tax over to a private corporation who may just use the money to line their own pockets.

    I do like the BBC and a whole lot of the stuff they produce a lot, don't get me wrong. But with the tax "accounting" system we use in the U.S. (Social Security Taxes are routed to the nation's general general checking account), I hope we never import this notion.

    Taxes paid to the government in the U.S. are technically easier to use "for the lining of pockets" than are grants and subsidies to a private corporation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:35pm

    I watch the shows, and without me there would be no reason to create them. By the same reasoning, I should get a cut of those IPO monies.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Danny, 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:36pm

    I can see why he's mad...

    If his wiki is accurate the only active thing on his plate is the show Modern Family.

    I could totally see this guy making the same demand of TV makers if he had been around when TV first caught on. My money says this guy is just crying sour grapes and is trying to grab all the money he can. Next he'll be asking for a cut of profits directly from every store that sales DVDs of the shows he's worked on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Hulu has enough problems.

    Every time Hulu is starting to work out, the corps want to change the contract.

    Just because HULU has the RIGHT IDEA, and the movie industry were IDIOTS. Then Another idiot wants money from his created shows, HE SOLD to the network.

    For those that dont know..I QUIT using cable/sat. I get 20 channels from Broadcast a RURAL AREA.
    CBS/NBC 2 channels/FOX/PBS 4 channels/CW 2 channels/RTV/ and a few independent channels. And 1/2 of them are LOW power and analog.
    WHO thinks they are getting TONS of money from this?

    Cable TV started this PAY FOR CRAP IDEA..
    Cable promised NO adverts..but NONE of the companies wanted to work WITH cable to do cable made promises to PAY PER USER..
    Cable TV promised to be CHEAP..well, since THEY were paying for the channels, they had to charge MORE.
    Beginning cable WAS NEAT.. there was stuff on that even made ADULTS squirm. UNTIL regulations and GROUPS started stomping on them, ADULT channels were easy access.
    Then came the BOXES..Scrambling..HIGH TECH..and total confusion. Sports channels were Easy to find and CHEAP, then 1-2 companies TOOK OVER the broadcasting and started CHARGING CABLE MORE. it was then $10 extra to get it...NOW they are forced on you and you get CHARGED anyway.
    Cable pays out pennies to dollars(mostly pennies) per user NOW. for all those channels, its about $30.
    Where MOST of the channels USED to be broadcast SOMEPLACE in the USA, you now have channels that are cable ONLY. And they get paid the most. EVERYONE wants their pennies.
    Then an interesting thing happened, Cable found out that the only Adverts that sell are for companies that are National. Local adverts never hit many people, except on local channels WHICH you can get on broadcast TV(which is free). Now if you If you count all the local advertisers you will find they are missing out on LOADS of money. SO, the local channels START charging for RE-broadcast of THEIR SIGNAL on cable Locally. EVEN tho its FREE on broadcast.

    Now the fun part. Over the last 15 years the FCC has been TRYING to get cable to be Ala-carte.. SELECT the channels and groups you WISH to watch. IF' you really count, 90% of the customers only watch about 20 channels. NOT the 200+ they want you to watch. CUT the sections you dont want, and HOW CHEAP can you go? Even at $1 per channel, MOST want local channels(free) which means for about $15-20 you GET the channels you WANT to watch. AND if those channels ARNT the high priced ones, it COULD be allot CHEAPER. As most channels charge PENNIES for RE-broadcasting their signal.
    In the end..Everyone wants their PENNIES.

    NOW even MORE fun.
    What if'. Cable QUIT paying? Which channels would suffer.
    REQUIRE your customers to contact those IDIOTS that wants MONEY to tell them to BROADCAST for free. The only money they would be getting would be from Adverts on the channels. ESPN charges cable about $3 per person per month.
    MOST of the channels would be FREE! And the only charge you would have is paying cable $20-25 per month to watch ALL the channels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Khyle, 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Out of context?

    I thought what he was getting at was that the ratings system doesn't properly reward Hulu views. The broadcasters are (so the argument goes) cutting out the content producers by artificially de-emphasizing Hulu views.

    From a good write up at NewTeeVee (

    Levitan’s beef seems to be mainly focused on how Hulu streams are measured — or not — as part of a show’s total audience. In a series of follow-up tweets, he wrote:

    “To be clear, I value every single one of our viewers, no matter how you watch, I just want you to be counted… …That’s how we’ll ensure the future of quality television. We need a ratings system that counts all viewers on every format: TV, DVR, Hulu, iTunes, iPad Player, network websites, etc.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Umm,

    Free Capitalist.

    Capitalism works IF' the corps do it correctly, there is a point you have to STOP asking for pennies. After so many pennies to THIS/THAT/everyone else..its a $1. and they keep demanding more.
    If the RIAA/MPAA/movie industry/music industry/Writers guild/Authors guild/.../.../... ALL want their pennies. Things just dont STOP.
    there is a company NOW suing over the USE' of a chair in a recent movie. As they say its copyrighted TO THEIR SHOW. HOW deep can copyright go?
    The national Library, CANT release 60+ year old Recordings to the public, because they cant know all the descendants of the creators of the music and contact them to get a release.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Hulu has enough problems.

    But the channels that charge pennies can charge pennies because everyone pays those pennies. Say they charge a penny per viewer per month. If one person in 100 decides to pay a dollar they might break even. I end up paying $20 for the 20 stations I watch instead of getting the 150 or so stations I get now for the $20 that the cable co pays the networks on my behalf.

    The home shopping stations will continue to be on the channel list because they pay the cable company to be on the system. The Religious stations will either get a free ride or pay a pittance to be on the system.

    My old Cable company used to charge less for internet and cable if I agreed to accept cable than if I only paid for internet. I took the cable and saved a couple of bucks per month. I rarely used it because I was already paying for a better satellite service. But the cable company used my existence to charge more for local advertising since they could claim me as a subscriber.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Out of context?

    And the viewers just want to be able to watch shows WHEN they want, on the device(s) they want, and in the FORMAT they want WITHOUT having to pay more than once for the "privilege"!!

    Slingbox has that answer, but then it's on top of ANOTHER bill that we already pay (cable/satellite/FIOS).

    I'd love to have one bill and be able to watch whatever my local provider has available on whatever device I choose for say $50 month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Vincent Clement, 23 Aug 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Umm,

    There is no levy on DVDs in Canada.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    JC, 23 Aug 2010 @ 1:28pm



    Did you read any of the article or comments?

    Go away!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Steven (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Out of context?

    I think you have this right. It's overblown and out of context. His main beef seems to be with the Nielson ratings system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    beckerist (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:22pm

    "Mucking it up"

    Can you please elaborate on how there are signs of them "mucking it up?" I personally have used the site since the very beginning (with proof! I have a "Hulu, I knew before you" and letter sitting in my closet as we speak!) and have never run into ANY problems, nor have I disliked any new feature they have come out with. If there is trouble on the horizon, I'd be interested to hear about it...especially since I'm considering getting in on their IPO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:31pm

    "According to The Hollywood Reporter, Levitan has been lobbying ABC and Disney to stop distributing "Modern Family" online."

    Oh look, he's also stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Umm,

    I heard from a friend up there, that they are paying about 2-3 times as much as the USA... As a USE tax. They know they will be used to Copy something, and the tax pays for it.
    May not be in your area.
    As in the USA we pay about $0.50 per DVD or LESS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    ChronoFish (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Human Nature

    This is my complaint about unions too.

    Everyone who goes to work does so for an agreed upon dollar amount. No one "has to work" for company XYZ for $x.xx dollars / hour.

    Revisit those workers (union or otherwise) at 10 years on the job, 15, 20.... What do you find? Comments like "the company is making a mint on the backs of the workers"

    Never mind that the worker at $40k/year has now been paid half a million dollars since he first signed the offer letter. Somehow because the company is making money, the worker is getting screwed (?)

    I call it "I agreed to work for you before I knew you where going to make money off of me" syndrome. Or in the case of producers "I agreed to syndicate my shows that were collecting dust because I didn't think you were going to turn it into a Billion dollar idea".

    Too bad. You got the money you demanded upfront. You're not entitled to renegotiate the past.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Re: "Mucking it up"

    Get the IPO, it will be worth it, if the Movie corps STOP changing the contracts and requirements, and just SHUT UP.

    Love Hulu.
    they Bulked when the Corps wanted them to change the format to a proprietary one as NBC has.
    If you want to hit everyone, you NEVER use the latest tech.
    there should be a few changes, as they could/would gain at least another million or more viewers..OPEN up to the WORLD.. the problem is adverts cant be aimed EASILY for location. Another problem will be bandwidth..they would/will need More bandwidth and probably Extra locations around the world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Umm,

    There is a levy on blank DVDs as there are on blank CDs.

    Commercial releases don't have the levy, true, but that doesn't make up for the fact that it appears that out of about 32 million people in this country 31.99999999 million of us are criminals, thieves and pirates.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re:

    please engage sarcasm filter :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:48pm

    its getting stupid out there.

    Consider the DVR in the Dish Box..It has a USB port that is disabled, and the HD is encoded and Scrambled, so you CANT copy anything.
    Think of what could be done IF this was not required.
    Use a DIVX format, and input your own video tot he drive to play from the net, or copy those videos you would like to keep.
    They want their pennies..

    NOW the BBC learned a BAD lesson. The Series Doc. Who, is missing over 300 shows. They had to run around the planet and look for COPIES..There were a few. Even a few from the original. STILL 300+ episodes are gone.

    These corps and companies are using MOVIES as money. and the contracts for WHO gets Copyright on WHAT, is getting even worse. The copyrights on 1 movie takes 7-10 different copyrights, from MOVIE/People in the movie/music played/.. and thats the beginning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Umm,

    we pay a tax on cd's. which in some cases cost more than dvd's thanks to the levy (tax)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Patrik, 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Human Nature

    Not true at all. PLENTY of people renegotiate contracts, all the time. It's incredibly common in a lot of industries.

    Kurt Cobain did it with Nirvana (and managed to retro-actively take money from his own bandmates), Shania Twain did it and Danny Goldberg wrote a whole essay about it ("The Ballad of the Mid-Level Artist", look it up). Lots of people do it. Execs have to meet quarterly projections, and all a profitable (key word) creator has to do is threaten to drag their feet on new material. The artists aren't going anywhere, but those execs won't survive the quarter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Hulu has enough problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Hulu has enough problems.

    SHOW ME WHERE YOU ARE PAYING $20 for all the channels and I will move there.
    WE arent paying $20..WE are paying $50-100 per month to watch shows/channels WE DONT WATCH.
    EVEn if you are on the DISH network, READ YOUR 2 year contract...Idiot. After the 6 months HBO isnt free, after 12 months DISH goes up to $45 PLUS any options you added.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    cram, 24 Aug 2010 @ 12:43am

    Reminds me of the time when Bebo got acquired for 850 million and Billy Bragg said some of that money should go to the musicians, because hey, without the musicians Bebo ain't worth anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    Richard (profile), 24 Aug 2010 @ 4:00am


    Amazing how these people get the situation exactly 180degrees out of phase. Any new piece of technology or service is like a vacuum - it doesn't stay empty for long - content rushes in to fill it. People who deliberately keep their content out lose out.

    Without the new technologies and services of the 20th/21st centuries most of today's wealthy artists would have lived and died in relative poverty like Mozart.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hulu has enough problems.

    The cable runs about $60 a month I figure they are claiming 2/3 for operating costs other than programming and paying $20 to the networks.

    If we had real competition the operating costs would be way less than that $40. Right now I've got Verizon FIOS and COX serving in the area. But I don't think they are really trying to compete.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. icon
    slander (profile), 28 Aug 2010 @ 5:51am


    Apparently he's already getting what that show is worth...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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