Boxee disclosed today that Hulu has asked to be removed from its open-source media center platform, at the request of Hulu’s content partners. As a result, Boxee will discontinue Hulu support this Friday.
Writing on Boxee’s blog, CEO Avner Ronan expressed the hope that Hulu support eventually will be restored. “We have many content partners who are generating revenue from boxee users and we will work with Hulu and their partners to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” he wrote.
“We will tell them how users love Hulu on boxee, why it represents a great opportunity for them to better engage with fans of their shows, how boxee can help in exposing their content to new people, and why they should be excited about future opportunities of working with us,” added Ronan.
Over at Hulu’s blog, meanwhile, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar acknowledged the inevitable disappointment of the Boxee user community. “This has weighed heavily on the Hulu team, and we know it will weigh even more so on Boxee users,” Kilar wrote.
“Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes,” explained Kilar. “While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.”
“The maddening part of writing this blog entry is that we realize that there is no immediate win here for users,” Kilar added.
So, what now?
It remains to be seen how well Boxee adapts to the loss of Hulu.
Certainly, Hulu-on-Boxee was a match made in heaven, in that it brought a huge amount of content onto the Boxee platform. On the other hand, there were serious limitations to Boxee’s handling of Hulu content. Boxee’s UI frequently was rendered nonfunctional (or partially functional) as a result of attempts to use the UI’s pause, forward, or backward functions while playing Hulu content.
What about solving this sort of problem by devising a way to embed Hulu — and similarly restricted restrictions — directly into Boxee’s UI, along the lines of how Mozilla’s Prism seemingly embeds web applications directly into the Linux desktop.
For now, though, watching Hulu-supplied content on DeviceGuru’s DIY Boxee Box is no harder to access than clicking a launcher on the system’s GNOME desktop.
In case you’re interested in using this approach, start by installing Prism as described here. Then download this desktop icon and and save it in the .icons directory in your home area. Now create a Prism launcher on your GNOME desktop using the tool at Menu > Internet > Prism, pointing it to http://www.hulu.com. Finally, right-click on the newly created Prism launcher on your desktop, select Properties, click on the default Prism icon, and select the hulu icon you just saved in the .icons directory as the launcher’s icon. That should do the trick!
Let’s hope Boxee manages to get Netflix’s streaming video service working on Linux soon, to fill the video void created by the loss of Hulu.