Hulu CEO heckles Netflix on content spending: 'It's how you spend that is really important'

  • Hulu CEO Randy Freer weighed in on Tuesday on consolidation in the media industry — and subtly heckled rival Netflix for its content spending.
  • Hulu's joint ownership model is under threat from the potential sale of Fox to either Comcast or Fox.
  • The winner of Fox assets would also become the majority owner of Hulu.

Hulu CEO Randy Freer weighed in on Tuesday on consolidation in the media industry — and subtly heckled rival Netflix for its content spending.

"I think money is a relative term. I think it's how you spend that is really important. We are not going to make 800 shows next year, we'll probably make 20 or 25," Freer told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Netflix has said it expects to have 700 original shows this year, spending up to $8 billion on content. To date, Hulu has been more selective in funneling its content dollars to a smaller number of projects, compared to streaming rivals like Amazon and Netflix.

"It's important to us to make big, impactful shows that delight our customers, that are relevant and entertaining, and have cultural conversations going," Freer said on "Squawk Alley."

Thanks to a joint ownership model, in which Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast own equal stakes in Hulu, the media company has streaming rights to ABC, Fox and NBC. Those broadcasters sell content to Hulu, growing its audience and granting access to lots of quality programming for less.

"The best thing we get from all of our owners is the vast amount of resources that they have — the amount of content they both put on their networks and make available to us, the support they provide, the marketing opportunities," he said.

But now Hulu has found itself in the cross-hairs of a media industry pushing for consolidation. Should Comcast or Disney acquire Fox's assets, the winner will also become Hulu's majority owner. It's not immediately clear how the outcome of the battle over Fox would affect Hulu's access to content.

Freer refused to weigh in on which potential future owner he preferred, but said it would be easier for Hulu if the ownership structure stays decentralized.

"Look, I don't know if one owner would be better than three or four, but what we know today is that we have every opportunity to drive our business forward," Freer said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com. Comcast is also a co-owner of Hulu.