Yes, Virginia, Hulu Hates You

By  |  Friday, May 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

OK, so maybe we can’t ascribe hatred to Hulu, an emotionless corporate entity and online pawn of the studio system. Let’s just say Hulu exhibits something akin to disrespect or disdain and clearly calls the shots as they reach into our homes and devices to decide what web browsing technologies are permissible. They talk about content licensing challenges, and I bet that is the primary factor driving their behavior. However, as content consumers, most of us don’t care on a conceptual level. All we know is that Hulu blocks select, legit Web browsing software and hardware from accessing their website. Which makes this a net neutrality issue.

What’s got me spun up (this time) is that while Flash technology is coming to Android, access to the Hulu website will be prohibited. From Engadget and according to Adobe’s CEO (who looks to be in cahoots with Hulu):

Hulu is a legal issue. It’s a great app, we understand the interest, but there’s content licensing issues that prevent it for global or even mobile devices. It’s not something that is a technical issue at all.

I call BS. Regional restrictions are one thing, but excluding my browser of choice because you don’t like my platform is something else entirely. Where will Hulu draw the line? If they work a deal with Apple, will Windows web browsers be blocked? If they work a deal with Sony, will the PS3 be unblocked? The platform should be irrelevant as long the content is presented as intended and not scraped (like the original Boxee implementation).

I’m sure there’s a reasonable middle ground, but wonder if the studio system will find it before their market erodes (or is replaced) – as seen with the music industry. Until then, if this is how TV Everywhere is going play out, I retract my ‘death of roll-your-own placeshifting’ proclamation. And suggest everyone purchase a Slingbox.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)



7 Comments For This Post

  1. Tom Foremski Says:

    How is this a net neutrality issue? Net neutrality is about the carriers of data. Hulu has the right to block access by other platforms and also from non-US regions.

    But I agree with you that if the content is not scraped and repackaged, it shouldn’t matter to Hulu how it is viewed.

  2. Karmajunkie Says:

    Net neutrality refers to delivery of TCP/IP traffic in an agnostic manner by the telcos. What you’re complaining about (and rightly so, i might add) is an application layer issue, which takes it out of the realm of net neutrality.

  3. Jeff Yablon Says:

    May or may not be BS (seriously, they DO have an amazing number of licensing restraints, so why not this one?), but to your original question, no, this isn’t a net neutrality issue. That’s about ISPs, not application providers.

    Jeff Yablon
    President & CEO
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  4. Anonymous Says:

    I can’t wait for the commentverse to somehow twist this until it’s Adobe’s fault. Gotta love the anti-Flash bandwagon :

    Couldn’t running a third party browser like Fennec set to identify as a desktop PC get around this? (That is, if Hulu checks platform by user agent string and now by checking Flash itself.)

  5. Tom B Says:

    If Hulu is not using Flash, that’s terrific. From a user POV, Flash sucks.

  6. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    I agree it sucks. I hate when websites detect hardware and give me a mobile version. The Web should be device agnostic.

    However Hulu has never been device agnostic, it’s not on the Web, it requires Flash.
    They’re not sending you an open format you can decode with any device, they’re sending you Flash and that is not platform independent. Adobe has to bless your device with a player and publishers have to decide to support your device. Hulu is using Flash for its DRM.

    > can’t wait for the commentverse to somehow twist this until
    > it’s Adobe’s fault. Gotta love the anti-Flash bandwagon

    People are unhappy that websites are still hiding content in Flash when Flash exists only on Mac/PC but there are about 20 platforms on the Web, now. I think that’s a legitimate reason to be unhappy with Flash.

    This is still Adobe’s fault because Flash is their platform. Everything about it is their fault. They are way, way late to mobile and so publishers assume Flash means Mac/PC. It will take time to adjust, but Flash will not even reach 1% of smartphones before this time next year. So early users of it are not going to get what Adobe has been promising all this time. In many cases, your Android phone will be redirected to a mobile site with no Flash even though you have Flash.

  7. James Katt Says:

    HULU cannot simply let the content it has licensed be viewed on any platform. It doesn’t have the right to do so.

    HULU only has the right to show content on a computer screen – not a cell phone, not a television, not a Google TV, not an Apple TV, etc. etc. Only on a Laptop or Desktop computer does HULU have the right to show the content.

    The content rights holder – be it ABC, CBS, Sony, Disney, NBC, etc. – has the ultimate right to decide where their content can show. And HULU has limited rights.

    Those rights also vary from country to country. If HULU can show in the U.S., it does NOT have the right to show it in Europe or Asia. Each country has its copyright laws and may have separate copyright holders on the content.

    Thus don’t complain.

    You don’t have the right to view HULU on any other platform other than a computer. That’s copyright law. HULU has its hands tied behind its back.

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