Just to get you up to speed if you don’t know what Hulu is and what situation is before I get to the rebuttal I found today:
Hulu is a (US only) website which allows you to stream TV shows (in pretty good quality) to your computer via Flash, it has deals with some of the major US TV companies and has shows added very shortly after they are originally aired and seem to stay available online for a long time (e.g. much more than the 7 days you get with the iPlayer). You get very few advert interruptions, roughly 4 or 5 for a program that would run an hour on TV, and the adverts generally only last around 15 seconds or so, aiming to take the amount of time that you would normally spend fast forwarding through 3+ minutes worth of adverts if you recorded a program on your PVR.
It really is a top-notch user experience and it is the kind of thing that could really take off big, and from what I’ve seen of other services is the closest thing in to my In an ideal world thoughts when I wrote about the BBC iPlayer over a year ago.
boxee is a wonderful-looking piece of media centre software (which by the way is going to be running on my next media centre when I get round to doing that) that not only allows you to play media on your machine or from DVD’s etc. but also connects to some popular TV streaming websites – such as the BBC iPlayer, Hulu and more.
The “situation” is that Hulu has been forced by the content providers to not support boxee any more, their blog post on the situation and boxee’s thoughts on the situation are both well worth reading (basic I think they both boil down to neither party, Hulu & boxee, wanted this to happen but the TV companies forced the issue).
So that’s the situation, and it has not being received very well (see the 400+ comments on the boxee blog for a start).
I personally don’t understand it, I assume that the TV companies don’t pay Hulu to support their distribution costs - so it probably costs them next to nothing – but will probably be currently providing them less revenue than traditional broadcasting. However why they see a difference between using a piece of software to make getting TV programs onto your TV a little bit easier than using a browser on the same machine really makes no sense.
This is the kind of thing that leads people to fall back to other almost-as-frictionless means of getting the same content we currently have available, which of course currently means torrents. And that is what the rebuttal on lifehacker basically says and shows you what to do if you were so inclined.
My guess is this whole situtation thing is because the media companies are currently doing deals with set-top box companies to make hardware to do the same thing as the boxee/hulu combination, but obviously with more control, more revenue for them and probably more adverts, more restrictions and a less polished user experience.