Business Software

Hulu, Boxee Go Back & Forth With Consumers in the Middle

Do you like ping-pong? The incessant back-and-forth, the staccato sound of hollow plastic ball against rubberized paddle? The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat? Did you know you can get the same enjoyment following the tug-of-war between online video site Hulu and software developer Boxee?

Up until recently, users who installed Boxee on their Apple TVs could enjoy video from Hulu streamed directly to their big-screen televisions. Unfortunately, this seemed to displease Hulu overlords NBC and Fox--people watching television on their TVs? Madness. Hulu put a stop to the practice forthwith.

You might think that was that, but come now--this is Internet-town. Boxee found that it could bring back access to Hulu via the site's RSS feeds. Point for Boxee! But Hulu quickly dealt a devastating return blow when it blocked Boxee's browser from accessing the feeds. The problem is the clever folks at Boxee keep finding a way around the restrictions, leaving Hulu to scurry and plug each hole in turn. Boxee's now integrated a status display in its software that tells you whether or not Hulu is currently available (information also available from a Twitter account).

Some of you may remember my cardinal rule of technology (never bet against the hackers)--like many corporations, the content providers here (or, well, "content witholders" in this scenario) don't seem to have realized that they're on the losing end of this battle.

We expect the duel to continue until either a) NBC and Fox realize that they're actively preventing people from using their service (not to mention watching the ads that power it) and relent or b) Hulu disappears into the ether, another failed example of the problems inherent in holding on to an archaic business model.

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