AfterDawn: Tech news

Boxee users get workaround for Hulu access

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 23 Feb 2009 8:03

Boxee users get workaround for Hulu access Last week Hulu, a major streaming video provider, announced their content would no longer be available to Boxee users. Boxee is a media center application designed partly for watching the free video streams from the internet. Now someone at Lifehacker has come up with a workaround to bring Hulu content back to Boxee.
Despite not having any actual agreement in place with Hulu, Boxee made it possible to stream their shows for viewing on a TV. The content was not altered in any way, which meant any ads in the original source remained intact.

Boxee's unique integration with a related social network could also be used to provide valuable user feedback to Hulu. This social networking feature allows and encourages members to recommend content to each other.

The only official comment from Hulu came in the form of a blog post by CEO Jason Kilar. He wrote only that it was at the request of "content owners." Most Hulu content comes from its two parent companies, NBC Universal and Fox, but it also features TV shows and movies from MGM, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Brothers.

Boxee CEO Avner Ronen wrote on the company's blog, "Our goal has always been to drive users to legal sources of content that are publicly available on the Internet. We have many content partners who are generating revenue from boxee users and we will work with Hulu and their partners to resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

Even with Boxee so eager to help Hulu's content owners make money it may be difficult to work out a deal. Some in the broadcast industry are suggesting Fox and NBC simply don't want Hulu to compete with traditional broadcast, cable, and satellite viewing.

Ronen says Boxee users watched about 100,000 Hulu streams in the approximately 4, months it was available. That is just a drop in the bucket compared to the millions Hulu has streamed overall. But facts and figures have rarely stopped traditional media companies from having knee jerk reactions to anyone accessing content in new and unplanned ways.

It's possible Hulu will be forced to waste manpower and money making changes to block unofficial access to their service by Boxee users. That would probably result in more workarounds, followed by more changes to block them, and on, and on, indefinitely.

Or NBC and Fox could decide to be different and start treating Boxee users as another target market to be exploited for more revenue.

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