Hulu blocks Boxee, could Firefox, IE and Safari be next?

quick intro to boxee from boxee on Vimeo.

The news that Hulu has asked Boxee to remove access to its content is ridiculous on many levels.

Not least is the fact that, in relation to Hulu, technically speaking Boxee is just a web browser that happens to be optimized for a ‘ten foot’ or TV-like viewing experience rather than for when you’re sat directly in front of the PC. And crucially, since Boxee has yet to license its software to set-top box makers or build a box of its own, the only way to get Boxee content onto a TV is via a PC (aside from running Boxee on a hacked AppleTV). Once the PC is using the TV as its monitor, any content can be displayed on the television, including using a standard web browser such as Firefox, IE or Safari to access Hulu or any online video site. All Boxee has done is design a better browsing experience for when you’re sat further away. In other words, Boxee alone doesn’t enable Hulu to be viewed on the TV, it just makes it more convenient.

In terms of the business case, Boxee hasn’t done anything wrong either. It doesn’t remove the ads that are embedded in Hulu content, no does it run ads of its own. Its only crime, as already stated, is that Boxee has made it more convenient to view television content on a PC connected to a TV. Oh the irony.

Hulu says its not their fault that they’ve had to block Boxee, but it’s at the request of content owners who license their content to the site. What they’re afraid of, it seems, is that if television content online can be conveniently piped back to the TV, users may cancel their cable TV subscriptions or equivalents altogether. This, of course, is happening already – thanks to the Internet – and stopping Boxee alone won’t hold back the tide. The Boxee software is cool an all but it ain’t that revolutionary 🙂


last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

2 Responses to “Hulu blocks Boxee, could Firefox, IE and Safari be next?”

  1. I’d like to point out that ‘making it more convenient’ is in some ways tantamount to ‘making it possible,’ since, for a large portion of users, convenience is a key adoption requirement. While content owners may not have been troubled by a small number of earlier adopters, they may indeed be troubled by any technology that helps bridge the gap. I’m not arguing for or against their action, but I thought the point deserves clarification.

  2. Bruce says:

    In response to Drew, I think you are missing Steve’s original point. The people using Boxee *already* have a computer connected to their TV. They could just as easily access Hulu via Firefox or Safari or IE. Boxee just makes a better experience of something they are probably already doing, or at least planning on doing. Hulu seems to think these people would not hook their computer to their TV without Boxee, and that strikes me as just wrong, imo.

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