As a boxee user/proselytizer, I am gutted over the latest news: Hulu will be removed from boxee as of Friday (February 20, 2009). Hulu gives some insight into its request for removal from boxee in its blog post and at least Hulu seems to understand that this decision will be extremely unpopular for users. And I think that's an understatement.
So what's going on? Why would Hulu request the removal from a system that not only doesn't omit ads, but gives nothing but positive good will to the Hulu brand? As always, it seems to come down to money, or in this case, "content providers." Apparently big media still doesn't get it. Streaming TV shows over the web -- even in HD -- is apparently just fine, just don't make it easy to access or use on a TV-sized monitor.
Boxee isn't alone in feeling Hulu's wrath. Earlier today, Hulu content was yanked off of TV.com (CBS's TV portal that started offering programming in January). I sort of understand Hulu's position in regards to TV.com -- why give competitors a key to all of your content if you aren't going to get anything in return -- but boxee?
This is just incredibly short-sighted and a total lose for consumers, customers and TV viewers. Just as television networks are making waves in providing free alternatives to torrents (or buying stuff off of iTunes), they do stuff like this that only reinforces old habits.
The even more pathetic situation is that if I hook up my MacBook to my HDTV, using HDMI or DVI, I can still watch Hulu that way. I can even pause and fast forward from the comfort of my couch, if I use a Bluetooth keyboard. This just makes having a central box for all my media THAT much more difficult.
Will this end with boxee? What about the Hulu-capable TVs that debuted at CES? Are those devices somehow exempt?
We'll be following this story as it develops. As the boxee team says, they are committed to getting Hulu back on boxee. We hope something can be worked out soon.