Thursday, February 19, 2009

Boxee: Hulu, I hardly knew thee...

As you may have heard, the media center software called Boxee is being asked kindly to disconnect its Hulu feed at the request of Hulu's content providers (FOX, NBC Universal, MGM, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. and more).

This move makes no sense to normal human beings (maybe that's just the difference between us humans and the Hulunites). Allow me to shed some light on why this move is stupid (are you listening News Corp?)
  1. People like watching TV on their TVs, but sometimes you can't see the show you want when it airs. If you don't have a means to record it, Hulu steps in and lets you watch it on your computer.
  2. Hulu embeds short advertisements in the episode streams that are not skip-able much like live TV, so using the argument that viewers using Boxee won't be exposed to advertising is foolish to say the least
  3. Boxee compliments Hulu by making it more than just a computer program - it becomes front and center in someone's living room. Isn't that where FOX and Co. want to be anyway?
  4. Boxee will continue with or without Hulu. There are plenty of other uses for Boxee such that Hulu (and their partners) are the only ones who really suffer here.
  5. Forcing users to go to to view Hulu content more or less is contrary to Hulu's Super Bowl ad that purports to let you watch your favorite shows on any "portable computing device" -- unless it's running Boxee
  6. Sooner or later someone else will submit a streaming work-around or Bit Torrent-based solution to get the same effect of Hulu in Boxee without going through Hulu's controls thus making Hulu and their content provider lose yet again
  7. By letting Boxee users stream Hulu, Hulu maintains control of the content stream. Forcing users to find other ways to stream their content through Boxee removes that control from Hulu (and their providers) and places it in the user's hands.
  8. Hulu stands to lose the most in this transaction from boycotts and general non-use of the site by stilted Boxee users.
  9. The Pirate Bay is doing quite well in it's copyright infringement trial. If they come out victorious Hulu's content providers should be quivering in their boots.
So to Hulu and their content providers (aka News Corp.) I say this:
This move is nothing if not short-sighted, implies a sense of Luddite-esque resistance to technological media trends, and is just plain bad business for all involved. I strongly recommend you and your content partners start turning on your brains on again and realize the gravity of your mistake.

1 comment:

  1. While I agree with everything you said I think they have other plans...

    MSN video already has Hulu content and vice-versa.

    I've heard rumors (although I have nothing to substantiate the claims so don't ask me to...) that MSN video is working to push the Hulu content onto media center by way of MSN video.

    Microsoft is most likely making a powerplay here to force Boxee (or any other such provider/system/whathaveyou) out like they always do. They're probably strongarming the studios and forcing them to shut down the other services or their content will no longer be provided on MSN video.

    It might take longer now, but we'll have Hulu content on media center eventually. As for Boxee? I'm sure it'll take quite a while for Hulu/Content providers/Television broadcasters/etc to realize their mistake, by then as you said there will already be other solutions.