Hulu Goes Medieval on Boxee

By  |  Friday, March 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm

boxee_logoAt first, the kerfuffle involving the way startup Boxee used clever software to bring Hulu’s Internet TV service to TV sets was rather gentlemanly. Hulu asked Boxee to remove it, and explained why in a blog post that was almost apologetic–and which pretty much blamed it all on Hollywood content owners. Boxee thoughtfully replied in a post of its own–and complied. Unfortunate, yes, but civil.

And then Boxee cleverly used Hulu’s public RSS to bring back access to Hulu content. This time, there was no socratic dialog or genteel request–Hulu blocked Boxee from accessing its feeds.

I’m still sorting out my feelings here–the contrarian in me still believes in Letting People Make Their Own Damn Mistakes–but there’s no question that Hulu’s actions run contrary to the spirit of RSS feeds (which were designed to let folks access contact from whatever tool they pleased) and are a setback for Internet TV’s migration from the computer onto the TV. Which is a migration that’s inevitable, and a boon for consumers.

So I know who I’m ultimately rooting for here: Boxee and Boxee users (the latter group of which includes…me). Hulu hasn’t addressed this latest twist on its blog, but I hope it does so–it’s a company that’s built up a lot of cred for being surprisingly with-it for an enterprise formed by major media conglomerates, and it would be sad to see it backslide into a mode that’s paranoid, obtuse, and resistant to technological developments that help more people get at the cool things it’s doing.

One way or another, an awful lot of us will be watching Hulu or Hulu-like services on our TVs. Boxee is intrepid and innovative, and I hope it gets the opportunity to play a major role in getting us there…

[UPDATE: Dave Zatz right in the comments when he says this tug of war will be ongoing–Boxee is reporting in its blog that the Hulu feed is working again. For now.]


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Andrew Mager Says:

    Big media (Hulu) needs to embrace open standards and let the little guy have fun.

  2. Dave Zatz Says:

    There’s no point in even covering this. It’s going to be a continual tug of war between Hulu and a variety of scrapers going forward. And after Hulu asked Boxee to remove access a few weeks back, is anyone really surprised by this move?

  3. neeno Says:

    What’s up with Hulu? Anyways, you can use Yahoo Pipes or Feedity – to create a custom RSS feed for a Hulu page and it should work just fine.. for now at least!

  4. John Dowdell Says:

    If the people who create those big-budget extravaganzas you love so dearly do not wish to distribute through Boxee, then that’s their prerogative.

    The answer is to make something better to watch yourself, not to attempt to appropriate their investment.

  5. AJ_in_the_East_Bay Says:

    @John Dowdell,

    “The answer is to make something better to watch yourself, not to attempt to appropriate their investment.”

    What are you talking about? I thought people wanted their shows WATCHED! As long as the viewers watch the ads, what is the big deal? Nobody is “appropriating” anything, and that’s what’s wrong with these corporate types.

    Anyway, like Harry says: “Let People Make Their Own Mistakes.”

  6. JDoors Says:

    “… One way or another, an awful lot of us will be watching Hulu or Hulu-like services on our TVs. …”

    Hulu must ask itself: Does it want to be a PART of this, or would they rather stay the course and risk becoming obsolete?

  7. John Dowdell Says:

    “I thought people wanted their shows WATCHED!”

    … and if that creator does not wish them watched through one distributor, then that’s their error to make.

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