Content Owners Force Hulu To Block Mobile Browsers As Well

from the seriously? dept

I still can't figure out the reasons why content owners allowed Hulu to offer up TV shows in a browser... but then absolutely flipped out when they realized that the very same content can be seen on browsers on other devices as well. In the past, we've noted that Hulu was pressured to block the Boxee browser (which lets you view content on your TV) and the PS3's browser (also for TVs). Now, via hamill8152, we learn that Hulu is also blocking content on Skyfire, a mobile browser for Windows Mobile phones. The reasoning is the same as always (and, at the very least, kudos to Hulu for being upfront about the idiotic pressure it comes under from clueless content owners). Hulu explains the whole "windowing" thought process of the folks in Hollywood, and suggests that these windows will eventually go away. Of course, it's worth pointing out that Hollywood so disagrees with this that the MPAA has been pushing for ways to add more windows. Either way, the whole thing is silly. If you're putting your content on the internet, you're putting it on the internet. Pretending that televisions or mobile phones can't also view content on the internet makes no sense. One day, people in charge will understand this. Until then...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 10:18am

    It's Like:

    Content Owners (to Hulu): "Excuse me, you're doing great and all, you're quite popular, everybody loves ya, especially us... oh, and by the way, would you mind holding this bundle dynamite? And could stand in that bonfire over there? Thanks."

     

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  2.  
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    MCR, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 10:26am

    Comp to TV

    Don't most people have their computer connected to their big screen now anyway? It's the best way to watch pirated Hi-Def movies :-)

     

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  3.  
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    Robb Topolski (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    Way to chase users underground!

    The studios have been winning the piracy wars lately as evidenced by year over year improvements of the proportion of streamed content versus peer-to-peer content (for the past 3 years). This isn't just the on-demand stuff, there's a real hoarding mentality that is satisfied by the knowledge that permanent legal online distribution is now available.

    Does Hollywood really want to reverse that trend?

    It's suicide to take something available and make it unavailable. It just drives people back to those "other" services. You know the ones, "just right over there..."

    Dumbasses.

     

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  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Screw them

    This bullshit is why I use torents.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 10:53am

    At least you can't use Hulu on an iPhone because it uses flash.

     

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  6.  
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    TheStupidOne, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Re: Comp to TV

    That's what I have ... but i only watch legal videos ...

     

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  7.  
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    BillDivX, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 11:14am

    Not the content owners...

    The content owners are caught in a stranglehold themselves...While they do want sometimes unreasonable control over their content, they absolutely want more ways for people to see it.

    The villain here is the TV stations. They have been conviced to allow broadcast to computers, but as soon as a TV show ends up on a TV or mobile device without going through their broadcast network, they lose advertising revenue, so they freak out.

    Since the content providers still depend mostly on traditional local broadcast for their content royalties, the TV stations still hold significant power, and they are using that leverage to prevent service and content providers from bypassing them and collecting the ad revenue directly.

     

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  8.  
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    imfaral (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    omg why?

    Why would you do this??? I mean you are preventing people from seeing your ads. With more and more people that have smart phones as a smart website you should make a mobile version. Just think of the money you could get if you made a mobile Hulu. This is so moronic that it defies all logic.

     

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  9.  
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    Andrew, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 11:36am

    from Hulu's "about" page

    Looks like a blame shuffle to me. Hulu is run /by/ these "content owners." (from http://www.hulu.com/about/media_faq )

    Currently, Hulu’s Board of Directors includes executives from NBC Universal, Fox, The Walt Disney Company, Providence Equity Partners and Hulu, including:

    * Al Dobron, Providence Equity Partners
    * Anne Sweeney, Disney
    * Dan Fawcett, Fox
    * Jason Kilar, Hulu
    * Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal
    * Jonathan Nelson, Providence Equity Partners
    * Kevin Mayer, Disney
    * Mike Lang, Fox
    * Peter Chernin, News Corp
    * Robert Iger, Disney
    * Salil Mehta, NBC Universal

     

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  10.  
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    vastrightwing, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    A conspiracriy conspiracy

    First it was Boxee, PS3, the mobile browsers, then Chrome, then Firefox and then IE. Just like the smoking nazis. This will only make it necessary to include a Agent emulation menu so your browser will emulate any other browser.

     

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  11.  
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    Kevin Stapp (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    I can't help but wonder why they think the output device for internet access even matters? They obviously don't mind consumers viewing Hulu on a desktop and I assume laptops are ok as well. How about netbooks? Or is the issue with how the internet connection is achieved - wired vs wireless? Would they object to my laptop viewing content on Hulu using my wireless access? Is it the size of the device itself? Do they really care if I squint at my phone screen if I choose to view Hulu that way? It is so silly I am literally stumped on what their reasoning could possibly be.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    So in other words, they want 'piracy' to grow. Good to know.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Stuff like this makes me laugh. What will they do when all devices and applications become indistinguishable from computers? Hardware improvements are shooting ahead faster than software that can use the hardware. Eventually we'll get to the point that a brand new smart phone will have just as much horse power as a 5 year old desktop.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Cloak your browser

    There are some programs out there that make your mobile browser look like IE or Firefox. The site can't tell the difference, and they've stopped nothing. Once again, the technologically challenged office wienies try to control something they can't.

    Watching Hulu on my phone is awesome!

     

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  15.  
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    tracker1 (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    Funny thing is Hulu Desktop

    I fund if incredibly ironic that Hulu is now offering their own desktop application, after all the hubbub about being available on Boxee. I'd be pretty happy if I could launch Hulu's app from Boxee directly... I'm using a large 1080p TV as my monitor now.

     

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  16.  
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    Phoenix, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    @Kevin Stapp - It really has nothing to do with the devices, it is all about unique financial ecosystems. The big screen(s) in your house represent broadcast and cable television. This is a specific walled garden of revenue generation. PC browsers are another distinct financial ecosystem. Same for mobile devices.

    The content owners fear is that if they allow the walls to come down and these financial ecosystems merge, the net size of the revenue opportunity will be less.

    There are two things wrong with this fear:

    1. I contend that the net size of the revenue opportunity can be much greater because the potential reach is much greater... BUT it will require a new business model;

    2. It is a fantasy to think that the walls will stay in place for more than another year or two. I think the Internet is here to stay.

     

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  17.  
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    Phoenix, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    @Kevin Stapp - It really has nothing to do with the devices, it is all about unique financial ecosystems. The big screen(s) in your house represent broadcast and cable television. This is a specific walled garden of revenue generation. PC browsers are another distinct financial ecosystem. Same for mobile devices.

    The content owners fear is that if they allow the walls to come down and these financial ecosystems merge, the net size of the revenue opportunity will be less.

    There are two things wrong with this fear:

    1. I contend that the net size of the revenue opportunity can be much greater because the potential reach is much greater... BUT it will require a new business model;

    2. It is a fantasy to think that the walls will stay in place for more than another year or two. I think the Internet is here to stay.

     

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  18.  
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    interval, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Re: from Hulu's "about" page

    Its like they say "Yeah, sign us up for this internet nonsense." and then they see it in action they freak out. "OMG!!, I didn't know it would do THAT... take it off!!"

    Or somthing.

     

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  19.  
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    interval, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re:

    @Phoenix: "This is a specific walled garden of revenue generation. PC browsers are another distinct financial ecosystem. Same for mobile devices."

    Or so they think. Little do they know that this philosophy is already doomed.

     

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  20.  
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    Matt (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Um...it's been blocked on Skyfire for some time now. As a matter of fact, I even commented on it being blocked on the last article about hulu blocking browsers. Try to keep up Techdirt. :D I used to watch Hulu all the time, but my viewing habits have decreased significantly since they blocked it in skyfire. It's another case of content providers pissing off users and somehow thinking they will stick around. I don't see why there would be an issue since they are all getting the video stream from the same source. What's the difference between viewing hulu content in skyfire on my phone, and tethering my phone to my netbook to watch hulu through firefox? They are both using the same data connection and the ip address would be the same, so why not just let users watch the content on their phones?

     

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  21.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Comp to TV

    Don't most people have their computer connected to their big screen now anyway? It's the best way to watch pirated Hi-Def movies :-)

    no way dude. pirated movies look waaaay better on an illegally modded xbox.

     

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  22.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Not the content owners...

    The villain here is the TV stations. They have been conviced to allow broadcast to computers, but as soon as a TV show ends up on a TV or mobile device without going through their broadcast network, they lose advertising revenue, so they freak out.

    Since the content providers still depend mostly on traditional local broadcast for their content royalties, the TV stations still hold significant power, and they are using that leverage to prevent service and content providers from bypassing them and collecting the ad revenue directly.


    that setup is living on borrowed time. in a couple of years more people will watch video on computers and mobile devices than on traditional televisions. someone in TVland needs to understand that before they end up newspapers and record labels.

     

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  23.  
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    Kevin Stapp (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re:

    If that is truly the rationale then I agree with your assessment. Trying to wall off content based on the delivery hardware is doomed to fail. They simply can't erect walls as fast as people figure out ways to go around, under or through them.

    It reminds of a essay I read about the two most common things mankind has built throughout recorded history: Walls and Roads. Walls are built to restrict us and roads are built to free us. As we march through history the walls are eventually torn down but the roads always remain.

     

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  24.  
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    Aaron McNeil, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 5:26pm

    The TV Idiots....

    This is why I have a full on computer with a blue-ray player hooked up to my tv. The problem is even with that, they crippled the audio so even though my computer supports dolby digital, none of the software is allow to use it...

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 8:39pm

    hulu's biggest problem is they aren't making any money

     

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  26.  
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    hamill8152 (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 10:04pm

    Re:

    I suggested this story more on the "window" reasoning than on the fact that hulu blocked skyfire and other "alternative" browsers because we all know that that has been happening for awhile now.

    I thought it was a very nice coincidence that this reasoning came along just after the MPAA tried to get new software into DVR's to create a new "window".

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 10:25pm

    Hulu is dead to me, and dieing for the rest.

    R.I.P. HULU

     

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  28.  
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    Bigstu, Sep 18th, 2009 @ 5:20am

    I can explain this, I think.

    I don't understand the term windows in this context and it may be what I'm about to describe.


    They let Hulu go with its plans because they thought of it this way: It will be shown on computers which they believe to be in a separate place in your house, away from other entertainment and things you'd want to do or see. That the viewing of it would be acceptable but limited. So one could see all this content for free but it would come at some level of annoyance that should in turn grow their thirst to get this content on a 'proper' medium which should increase sales.

    If you take out the separation from the equation then they believe its going to have the opposite effect and dampen DVD sales, streaming and online buying/viewing/rental revenue.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2009 @ 11:49pm

    windows mobile has a torrent client too :)

     

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  30.  
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    heindeljify, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 7:36pm

    Re:

    Where are you living? Our smartphones are as powerful as 5 year old desktops... bottom shelf anyway.

     

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  31.  
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    heindeljify, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 7:48pm

    Re:

    Where are you living? Our smartphones are as powerful as 5 year old desktops... bottom shelf anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    NewGuy, Jan 30th, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Hulu is a joke!

    Like someone said earlier; "Hulu's biggest problem is they aren't making any money" and that is somewhat true. With all of the advertisement they have on their site, instead of getting more viewers, they are just blowing viewers away. Megavideo has been and will forever(hopefully) be the king of online media as far as "movies" goes.

     

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  33.  
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    NewGuy, Jan 30th, 2010 @ 8:15pm

    Hulu is a joke!

    Like someone said earlier; "Hulu's biggest problem is they aren't making any money" and that is somewhat true. With all of the advertisement they have on their site, instead of getting more viewers, they are just blowing viewers away. Megavideo has been and will forever(hopefully) be the king of online media as far as "movies" goes.

     

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  34.  
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    D. Bland, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:24pm

    HULU IS A JOKE!

    Hulu is REALLY a joke! Presented with limited commercial interruption my ass. They have FAR more commercials than almost any network I have ever seen - literally 2 commercials every 5 - 6 minutes. They have totlly driven me from the site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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