The Hulu/Boxee Battle Continues To Go Back And Forth

from the give-it-up-hulu dept

On Friday morning, we wrote that Boxee had come up with a workaround to get Hulu content accessible again via Boxee. Basically, it just started accessing the content via Hulu’s RSS feed: which is exactly how the RISS feed was meant to be used. It’s just that the Boxee software would act as the “reader” of choice. It was difficult to see how Hulu could complain without appearing ridiculous: it would effectively have to say that only certain RSS readers could use it’s feed… and that’s exactly what the company did. By Friday evening, Hulu had a technical block in place. Of course, it didn’t take long for Boxee to figure out a workaround to that block, and supposedly (at the time I’m writing this) the service is back — though, Boxee has now added a little indicator to its software to let you know whether Hulu is accessible or not…

Everyone knows that Hulu’s content partners are actively trying to block Boxee, but it’s extremely difficult to see what their complaint is. Boxee is simply a different browser, accessing the content exactly as the companies offered it. Users of Boxee can still access Hulu on their computer, it’s just in a less friendly UI. All this really does is make plenty of legitimate TV watchers decide to go elsewhere for the content. It simply makes no sense to say Boxee can’t access Hulu. It would be like CNN denying mobile web browsers from accessing its site.

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Companies: boxee, hulu

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Comments on “The Hulu/Boxee Battle Continues To Go Back And Forth”

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MadJo (profile) says:

Current copyright laws are the bane of this societies culture

A dramatic overhaul is needed for it to make sense in today’s society.

And big media still thinks in antiquated ways, to them Boxee is a competitor, because you can watch it on the big screen in the living room. And they are afraid they are losing out on ad-dollars (which is bs, because I think that on Hulu you watch ads, right?)

Media makers should learn to embrace the concept of releasing their content on as many platforms as possible to generate as much or more eyeballs than ever for their products. Only then can they survive…
Why would they even want to prevent people from watching their content? Don’t they want to earn money?
They are driving people towards bittorrent, because that, at least, is not limited.

Thankfully/Sadly we don’t have a Hulu here in NL to deal with. Basically, the only two choices we have here, is wait a year or more for the shows to come to our screens on one of hour networks, or grab the shows on Bittorrent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Innovation will win

It’s almost sad. Hulu is the big loser here.

They get horrible press and are forcing customers to head to fancast, joost, veoh, etc. If I’m not mistaken, most of the content in question is on those sites. And I’m sure boxee has plugins to those sites that work.

Eventually boxee will win. Innovation always does. Of course, hulu’s content providers will do everything they can to stop it.

The thing I don’t understand is why hulu isn’t able to charge more for ads if more people are using the service. It would seem like 100,000 ad views are 100,000 views? And putting boxee on TV only makes those ads even more valuable? I really don’t see where the content providers lose anything, except of course viewership.

People using boxee are past being forced to watch on someone else’s schedule. They’ll stop watching. Then everyone loses.

some old guy (user link) says:

Re: Innovation will win

The content providers make far more money selling commercials on tv than they do online. They also make more money from DVD sales than they do from ad sales online.

The only reason the content providers license their content to sites like HULU is because they consider it advertising for their DVD sales and broadcasts. They do NOT want online viewing to become dominant over broadcast viewing, because that would be a net loss in terms of revenue. Hence, they do not want their own content to be used as a catalyst for that transition. And since the only thing they control in this equation is the rights to their own content, then that’s what they manipulate.

Once the power shifts enough, hulu will command higher ad prices, and will be able to pay the content providers enough money that they will consider broadcast to be the inferior source of income.

But we’re years away from that.

Haywood says:

Re: Re: Innovation will win

“And since the only thing they control in this equation is the rights to their own content, then that’s what they manipulate.”

Therein lies the problem, with bittorrent the alleged control over their content is all in their minds. They can let it out themselves and profit somewhat, or let the pirates release it for them and have no profit or control.

Rod MacPherson (user link) says:

Re: Re: Innovation will win

It seems like the TV content providers and Hulu are making the same mistakes that the newspapers made.

If only they sold ad space at a sustainable rate instead of thinking of the internet as a secondary outlet that can be funded from their primary outlet with the idea of driving more eyes toward the primary outlet…

The problem is in thinking of the internet as an add-on service to enhance their main service (TV) and not thinking of it as a service all it’s own that should be able to fund the content on it’s own should the market move in that direction.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Easy" workaround

Sooo… Why can’t Boxee just install a simple “fix” by creating functionality such as in Built into Konqueror? Namely…. The ability to change the browser identification thru a simple dropdown.

It would seem a pretty simple work around, since the only way Hulu (or another site) could know you are using Boxee is if it identifies itself as such. If it said it’s user agent was Firefox, then how’s a webserver going to know otherwise?

hegemon13 says:

Browser choice

This is exactly the same as if Hulu decided to block everything except Internet Explorer. They don’t block other web browsers because everyone knows that would be a stupid move. ALL Boxee is, in this case, is a specialized browser with a media-centric interface. How can they possibly think it is a good idea to block it, and why would they want to? They’re taking a popular tool, which drives them a ton of traffic that makes their advertising space more valuable, and they are cutting it off. Can you imagine a retailer doing something this dumb? “Sorry, you were referred by who? Nope, you can’t come in.”

jonnyq says:


I’ve never used Boxee, but this had me excited. I’ve been looking for a upnp server for Linux that can stream web content. Right now, I use Mediatomb, which streams files from my hard drive to my console. XBMC can do the same thing, and so can Boxee if you turn on the right configuration settings. But Boxee’s server can’t stream web content according to what I read.

Is there such a thing for Linux that I don’t know about? I download enough stuff that it’s not that big of a deal, but it would be nice if I could get Hulu and stuff on my console.

TheStuipdOne says:

Ad Block

Does Boxee have ad blocking software? Or do you still have to watch the ads that interrupt a Hulu video?

Whenever I visit Hulu it kinda freaks out that firefox blocks the ads but will still show me the video. I just get a 30 second error message from Hulu.

If I worked for the contnet owners I’d be much more upset about blocked ads in Firefox than people watching via Boxee.

Oh, and I sometimes connect my computer to my TV (easy thing to do) and watch streaming videos there. Is Hulu going to try to block that next?

RevWillie says:

Re: Re: Ad Block

Websites recognizing APB is invasive programming. In 1974 the Federal Government passed the Privacy Act. Invasive programming is against federal law. You can, however, be phished. “Now, turn off your add blocker software.” Remember, the Second Amendment isn’t for keeping a Militia, is it for getting rid of annoying Politicians who try to legislate your rights away.

The infamous Joe says:


The Boxee people have a twitter feed (is feed the right term?) on if hulu works on boxee. It’s ishuluonboxee. It’s flipped quite a bit over the past day or two.

I watch hulu quite a bit, because it’s *usually* more convienent than bittorrent for catching up on House or The Colbert report, but because I stream to my TV, I’ve had to switch back to bittorrent.

The whole idea seems quite foolish. Before the Boxee cutoff they had X number of eyeballs on their ads, now they have X-Y, where Y is the number of people who switched back to bittorrent. So, they made an executive decision to make less money. Brilliant!

kip (user link) says:

Can't they just spoof useragent (at least for Hulu)?

Can’t Boxee just spoof its useragent string, at least for Hulu? This is completely legal, AFAIK. Internet Explorer spoofed Netscape long ago, and Opera has long had an option to spoof Internet Explorer. I’m not sure if any of those have ever been challenged in court though, but I would have to think that the courts would come down on the side that spoofing useragent is OK.

Saint says:

Hulu vs. Boxee

A few points of order.

1) Viewing Hulu content via Boxee is identical in every way *except* most Boxee users are watching it on the large screen televisions rather than a smallish computer monitor. Boxee does not molest the Hulu content in any way, shape or form. All of the ads from content providers remain intact and it could argued viewing via Boxee is worse because you are unable to choose to see one long commercial and instead have the frequent 30-second commercials.

2) Boxee is genuinely exerting all of their efforts to be transparent and completely above board by not hacking or molesting provider content. Sure, they could build into their code a spoofing agent but as the days pass it is Hulu who is looking more and more ridiculous for blocking legal and free content for shamelessly persecuting boxee users.

3) Fire off an email to the powers that be at Hulu. The larger the grassroots effort to make a change, the easier it will be for Hulu (if it really stands 100% behind its mission statement) to show the content providers the revenue they are losing.

Excerpts from Hulu’s Site below.

Mission: Hulu’s mission is to help people find and enjoy the world’s premium video content when, where and how they want it. As we pursue this mission, we aspire to create a service that users, advertisers, and content owners unabashedly love.

What are Hulu’s main business goals?
Hulu is focused on helping people find and enjoy the world’s premium content when, where and how they want it, for free, anytime in the U.S. Our goal has always been to serve all of our customers, which include users, content providers and advertisers, with a high-quality online video experience built around premium content.


The mouth is saying one thing and the hands are doing another.

TiredWatcher says:

Someday they will get it right

So, they just keep driving me back to torrents with Miro. I say it over and over. I will gladly watch your commercials to help you pay for the shows. Unfortunately the best/stable offering I have found to date is Miro with a DLNA server. Too bad they can’t make a legit offering like this. Heck make torrents with commercials in it. I’ll watch them. I see the cable providers losing soon. As things like Hulu, Miro, Boxee, iTunes etc. start to grow, so will the desire for ala carte programming. Gone are the days of making me 200 channels to just get 12 shows I want. They better react soon or they will lose their footing just like the record companies did.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m pretty sure that the issue is the remote. Boxee allows users to use a remote – so theoretically they could replace their cable service with boxee. The networks freak out about that because to them, the cable companies are their main source of income – services like Hulu are supposed to target a different market. When the different market starts seriously interfering with their primary market, they intervened. I think Boxee (and such services) will ultimately win this thing – it’s hard for them to imagine not winning. If the networks put content online, people will figure out a way to get it easily.

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