If Google TV Has To Pay To Make Hulu Available To Viewers, Will Mozilla Have To Pay To Access Hulu Via Firefox?

from the yeah,-that'll-work dept

Ah, Hulu. The online TV streaming service has been leading a life of contradiction from day one. It's been trying to build a service that can successfully "compete with free," while being owned by the TV companies, who are scared to death of cannibalizing their own business. We've discussed in the past how this puts Hulu in an impossible position. The fact that it regularly has to have its engineers block access to any device or software that surfs the web over a TV is just one ridiculous example. Danny Sullivan perhaps sums it up best in his review of Google TV, after discovering that Hulu is (of course) blocking access to anyone using Google TV:
Hey Hulu -- you kind of suck. I'm not trying to access you from Google TV. I'm trying to access you using a web browser, which just happens to run through Google TV. Explain to me again why if I hook my computer up to my TV, and navigate to Hulu to watch the shows you offer for free, that's OK. But if I use my Google TV computer, that same free content is verboten -- and the only way for me to get to it is if in the future, you decide to make the free content available through your not-so-free $10 per month Hulu Plus service that's not even available beyond special invites on your own site.

Here's a thought. Enough of blocking Google TV and apparently other services like Boxee. Either block EVERYONE on the web or block no one, because in the end, you turn people who love you when they reach you on their computers (like me) into people who hate you when they're blocked in other places (like me).
Admittedly, Hulu is apparently getting pressure from the TV companies to do these blocks, but it still makes no sense. All things like Boxee and Google TV are doing is providing a browser. As Danny notes, if I just hooked up my laptop to the same TV, I could watch Hulu just fine. Why is it a problem if it's using a different piece of hardware? It makes no sense.

Of course, Google is now negotiating with the networks to "allow" their content to be viewed on Google TV. Is it just me or is this extremely troubling? How would people react if, say, the New York Times suddenly announced that it would not be viewable on Dell computers or in Firefox, unless Dell or Mozilla paid up? People would go nuts. Yet, that's exactly what is happening here.

In the meantime, we've already covered Hulu's ridiculous paywall plans, which even the company admits completely suck. Rumors are now spreading that so few people are interested in getting pretty much nothing for $10/month, that Hulu is now planning to cut the fee in half. Of course, if they're blocking access to random browsers for whatever ridiculous reason (and still not going ad free), then why would anyone pay?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    robphelan (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 8:52am

    I just don't understand why the TV companies aren't paying attention.

    I think the vast majority of Hulu users wouldn't mind paying $5-10/month if we felt we were getting something in return - Easily accessible, No commercials, longer retention period of shows, access from ANY device, etc....

    They're shooting themselves in the foot with these ridiculous restrictions. They need someone with vision who will actually listen to what consumers want.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 8:59am

    Are the paying so the browser on Google TV may access Hulu, or so they can streamline Hulu in as an app on the device? It seems that would make quite the difference.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Khyle, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:01am

    Ugh

    Paying $5 for a crappy service instead of $10 won't bring in more customers. Making it suck less will. I really don't understand the logic of charging people money for a service then intentionally trying to block people from various devices.

    Netflix does everything they can to push their content everywhere. By the time the networks let Hulu do the same, it'll be too late. They're really pissing away a great opportunity.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    "They're shooting themselves in the foot with these ridiculous restrictions."

    Yeah they are pretty much boned...

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:43am

    The funny part is that if you spoof the header it plays ok.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Stephen, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:44am

    torrent of nonsense

    Just download the shows. It's even easier than getting them on-demand.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Re: torrent of nonsense

    Many bit torrent clients have the ability to download automatically from rss feeds. Download to a dropbox folder for everywhere access, use VLC for everywhere streaming.

    Technology is fun.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    ComputerAddict (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:12am

    Shouldn't this be illegal?

    I'm not a legal expert by anymeans, in fact i'm just about as far from it as I can be (Architect by profession). But wouldn't the blocking of one company's browser (Chrome for Android [aka GoogleTV] / Boxee, etc) but not another company's browswer (IE, Firefox, by a firm (or firms) that holds a majority share in the market participating in anti-competitive practices under the Sherman Act, Section 3? Why aren't Boxee, Google, and everyone else suing for Anti-Trust Violations?

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    another mike (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:26am

    mmm, bacon

    This is why I built a home theater PC (HTPC). The dogs don't know it's not bacon!

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Re: Ugh

    "Making it suck less will."

    Making not suck at all would be better.

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:37am

    Re: mmm, bacon

    That's the way to do it. Now you can download any show you please (sans the ads) and watch them at your convenience. Ted and Boxee are best friends on my HTPC.

     

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

  12.  
    icon
    TPBer (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Re: Shouldn't this be illegal?

    Chrome is not blocked if used on a PC. Is an OS identifier, have not tried on my android phone, just curious, has anyone received their Logitec Revue yet. It's probably just an issue with sony's crap. The Logitec worked on Hulu when I tested for a dish customer who was beta testing for their upcoming release but this was in Feb. He made it a point to try hulu.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    pcanton, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Unstable features

    Even if Hulu's subscription was worth something I wouldn't bite. They are too inconsistent. For example this season started out great shows available the day after airing the show on tv. Then, oh, we are sorry now the rest of the season will be available 30 days after the air date. Thewb.com does simiar things. You get half way through a series then it goes away. Why?? Who knows!! It wasn't even anything new. Guess I'll have to bit torrent it. Ugh.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 11:31am

    Hulu is crap. No one cares. It will die, let it go.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 11:42am

    Everyone just needs to get WebTV!

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    Hulser (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Ugh

    I really don't understand the logic of charging people money for a service then intentionally trying to block people from various devices.

    From the perspective of Hulu, it is logical. Hulu has two masters, its customers and its owners (i.e. the companies which provide the content). Hulu is trying to balance the demands of the two. Lean too far towards what the customers want -- give them more, unrestricted content -- and you piss off the owners. Lean too far towards the owners -- don't give content away for free that is being sold to other parties for good money -- and you piss off your customers.

    No, it's not logical in the grand scheme of things that Hulu would block Google TV, but if they don't, they'd have their content yanked. If you were a big cable company paying through the nose for a show to appear on your service, what would you think if you found out your customers were just going out and buying Google TV and getting the same content for free? Sure, the cable companies and the content companies are burying their heads in the sand by pretending that the world is the same as it was before the Internet, so what they're doing isn't really logical, but I can at least see why Hulu is doing what it's doing just to try to survive another day.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: torrent of nonsense

    It may be fun but VLC is increasingly insecure with system-level vulnerabilities. Be safe!

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    robin, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 4:08pm

    not innocent

    Admittedly, Hulu is apparently getting pressure from the TV companies to do these blocks...


    apologies for repeating myself mike, but

    hulu is the tv companies.

    every single kerfuffle hulu has been involved in with its customers, it has done the exact same song and dance: we love our customers but we're being forced into this.

    please...stop listening to them cry wolf.....and stop repeating their press releases.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Mitch Featherston, Oct 23rd, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Hulu doesn't work

    I have been a supporter of the CONCEPT that Hulu is built on from day one. To me, it makes perfect sense until it doesn't make sense... like controlling access points of their content. If Hulu could just allow 3rd party outfits to build onto their service, they could make Hulu work a lot like Revver originally worked.

    At this point, my belief is that Hulu is broken (sadly).

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    porkster, Oct 23rd, 2010 @ 8:54pm

    Yes blocking any browser sucks even Australian browsers. Oh that's right you can't supply non US countries for a completely different reason, the TC networks don't like it....

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Ben, Oct 24th, 2010 @ 9:53pm

    uh, yeah try letting people outside of America actually access the damm thing might do a little to alleviate how much they suck.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Pete (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Shouldn't this be illegal?

    Good question. Perhaps they are hoping for some sort of peaceful resolution first?

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This