Boxee forced to remove Hulu - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)


A lot has been said about the decision to remove Hulu from Boxee. Boxee is a program that can be put onto an AppleTV (and some computer platforms) for the purpose of playing media other than what Apple had in mind on the AppleTV. Hulu is a service designed to stream mostly-unobtrusive-commercial-supported video to computers. So it should come as no surprise that the Big Media conglomerates have requested that Boxee remove Hulu.

And that’s because Big Media makes a lot of money from licensing its content to cable providers. For example, one estimate says that Time Warner pays Viacom $300 million per year in licensing fees.—and that’s just one of the major cable providers! Since the AppleTV/Boxee/Hulu combo is designed to put Hulu content straight onto the TV, it is an effective enough (albeit not perfect) competitor to cable, enough so that Big Media is worried—rightly so—that it may eat into their profits from the cable providers.

“But Bill,” you say, “there aren’t enough ATV/B/H users out there to make a difference! And besides, Hulu is supported by ad revenue so that the content providers get paid!”

“Perhaps not at the moment,” I say, and, “True.” But:

Since there aren’t so many ATV/B/H users out there, it’s the right time for Big Media to stop something they perceive might be a problem in the future, when more users would scream all that much louder and become a serious pain in their side. And more difficult to defeat in the court of public perception.


Don’t forget that the content providers get paid whether or not you watch your cable-provided content. They only get paid by Hulu when you watch Hulu. Guess which one nets more money?

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When it was just laptops and desktop PCs expected to play back Hulu content, Media was happy because it was not a source of direct competition. But ATV/B/H is a serious threat, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see that Hulu never shows up in a supported capacity on any other platform, either. Not until Hulu starts paying per subscriber instead of per viewer, and I’m pretty sure snow shovels would be found in Hell first.

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