It appears that Hulu has become the most popular girl at the school dance all of a sudden.  As we all know by now, the popular streaming video service is up for sale.  While there were some reports last week of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all expressing interest, it now seems that so many big names have entered the fray that you’re going to need a scorecard to keep them all straight.

According to All Things D, Verizon, AT&T and Amazon have now all made it onto the oddly named “short list” of potential buyers.  Why “oddly”?  Because apparently there may still be talks with Facebook, Netflix and Samsung.  Heck, if nine qualifies as a “short list”, I think I may give them a call and see about taking a meeting with them.  Sure, I might have to check every couch in America for enough loose change, but why not?

What’s intriguing here is that every company would have very different reasons for attempting to buy Hulu, here’s some thoughts on each:

Amazon – Those upcoming Amazon Tablets are going to need content, and bringing along a recognizable brand name could never hurt.  Yes, they currently have their Prime Videos, but the name isn’t a household term yet, and the addition of Hulu would really beef up their selection.Also possibly helping them is current Hulu CEO Jason Kilar used to be an Amazon executive.

AT&T and/or Verizon – Both of these companies would be looking to add Hulu to their cable offerings.  No big surprise here.

Facebook – This one seems like the most unlikely match to me.  Facebook seems content with selling ads against other people bringing their content to the social network, why should it add in the headache of dealing with all those licensees?

Google – A potential integration with YouTube would make some sense, but the company has a rocky history with video.  Google Video is now deceased, but possibly they are looking at this as something that could be integrated into Android and Google TV?

Microsoft – The number of places Microsoft could use this is pretty hefty.  Full integration into Xbox Live?  A selling point for Windows Phone 7?  A part of Windows 8 tablets?  There’s a lot of potential benefits for Big M with this purchase.

Netflix – This would be totally about acquiring the licenses and rolling it into their existing Watch Instantly service.  This is the one where I most definitely see the Hulu brand name being killed off.  It is also the one with the most legal issues and possible speed bumps as the studios don’t fully trust Netflix.

Samsung – Maybe for their tablets and smartphones?  This one has me scratching my head the most.

Yahoo – Yahoo needs something, anything, to get people excited about it again.  This could be the trick.

The list is like a who’s who of the tech field right now, and they all have enough money to buy the company, but there is one lingering question: Where’s Apple?  They are getting into streaming media now, they could slap it into the Apple TV and it could be another revenue stream for them.  It almost seems a little conspicuous their name hasn’t been mentioned in relation to this as of yet.

No matter who is truly the front runner, it does appear we need to get used to the idea of some new owners for Hulu, and the concept that the way we use and interact with the service could change drastically when that happens.

Who would you like to see end up buying Hulu?

[via All Things D]