Boxee vs Hulu
Recently I have been considering ditching Mythtv in favor of streaming. One service that really intrigues me is Boxee which is setup to be a media center for TV streaming. It is clearly geared towards a dedicated machine hooked to a TV as apposed to a monitor. It appears that the content owners at Hulu are freaking out about the fact that Boxee allows you to stream video to your TV. This strikes a particular chord in my heart and maddens me to see the utter stupidity that makes up big content creators. Their view is that they must control every aspect of your viewing life and any innovation that happens outside of their enclosed fortress needs to be put out immediately. In case you don’t know Hulu allows you to stream shows, mostly from NBC and Fox, to your computer via a web browser. The shows are on Hulu for free and you can view them at anytime, you can even pause or fast-forward. The only thing that Boxee does is make it more convenient for your to stream it to your TV screen via a computer (note that Boxee is not downloading the video or changing it an anyway just streaming the same that Firefox would). So what is the difference? Well apparently the screen. It is all fine if you are streaming the video to your laptop screen or LCD monitor, but if it is a TV watch out!
Hulu has an official response, and to be fair I like it a lot. It would seem that the CEO of Hulu doesn’t like it at all and realizes how absurd it is, but has little choice (though I think they are in a good position to put up a stink).
Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes. While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.
Boxee also has an official response. They don’t want to ruin any friendships so for now there won’t be a hack or anything.
The biggest absurdity of all this is that I can simply take a machine plug it into my TV open up FF and fire up Hulu. You would think content owners would realize that, but apparently they don’t. Beyond that Boxee only made the content more valuable. Content owners somehow think that a service like Boxee takes away from the content or makes them lose revenue, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Boxee was driving more traffic to Hulu and allowing more people to watch Hulu shows in a more convenient way and somehow that is a bad thing? Techdirt summed it up the best:
Hell, I imagine users of Boxee (depending on their setup) can simply use the computer they already have hooked up to their TV to surf directly over to Hulu. The interface might not be as nice, but they’ll still get to see the content. In those cases, it’s not even about the screen — but the browser. It’s perfectly legal for me to hook up my laptop to a TV, surf over to Hulu in Firefox and watch a show. All Boxee does is put that into a different browser — a better browser for TV. Since when does any content provider get to say that it’s okay to watch the content they put online in one browser, but not another? In the end, what good at all does it do to ban Hulu on Boxee other than piss people off?
One day content owners will figure this out and start treating customers nicely.