Monday, February 23, 2009

Hulu Declares War on Apple Pie, Puppies and Boxee

Just when the Boxee party started getting really good, Hulu had to come along and p*ss in the punchbowl. Apparently, Hulu is bowing to pressure from "content providers" and is blocking access to Hulu from Boxee.

I have written before several times about Boxee -- the revolutionary software that allows you to view internet based TV/movies seamlessly on your TV.

One of the features that makes it most useful, at least for me, is that Boxee allows you to stream the television content contained on sites such as Hulu or ABC.com directly to your TV. This solves the "last mile" connectivity issue between my iMac (which has access to virtually anything via the internet) and my HDTV which has a big screen and great clarity but no access to anything on the internet.

Hulu provides internet access to, among others, the main Fox and NBC television shows. When you watch the show, Hulu inserts some commercials in show breaks. These commercials cannot be fast-forwarded through or skipped. The result is the same whether you are watching Hulu on your personal computer or whether you are watching Hulu on your TV set via Boxee. Either way you see the commercials. Consequently, it should not matter to the true content provider on what device the content is viewed. Either way the content provider receives its advertising revenue.

To me, this seems like a much better outcome than the alternative where the end user pirates the content from one of the myriad torrent sites and watches it for free and without seeing any commercials. Unfortunately, by blocking Hulu from Boxee, the "content providers" seem to be traversing the same path that the record companies cut in the late 90s. Rather than recognizing innovation and attempting to monetize it as it happens they are attempting to squash innovation in a vain attempt to control the medium. This may well prove to be folly.

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Dividends and Preferences by Hank Heyming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.