Hulu (kinda, sorta) returns to Boxee

Hulu (kinda, sorta) returns to Boxee

People kind of went batguano crazy when Hulu insisted its content be taken off Boxee because its content providers freaked out and insisted on it.

Since then, Boxee has been in talks with Hulu and its content providers to come up with a workable solution that would allow Boxee users to watch Hulu on their televisions (Boxee, for those who don't know, is an application that allows you to stream your web video on your television.)

Hulu, owned by NBC Universal and News Corp., streams TV shows and other video content from NBC, Fox, their affiliated networks and stations and some other studios in a high-quality format (and sometimes in hi-def). We're talking The Office, 30 Rock, Battlestar Galactica, American Idol - some of the big ones. So when Hulu's content providers (read: NBC and Fox) freaked out that there was a Hulu app on Boxee and ordered it pulled, many folks were rather annoyed and probably turned to, ahem, other means to get the content that the networks would probably like even less (illegal downloads, anyone?)

Boxee began talks with Hulu and its content providers, but they haven't really gotten anywhere yet. Boxee was rather diplomatic on its blog (note: Boxee folks don't appear to like capital letters):

while we don’t come from an entertainment or cable background, we are learning quickly. it is a complex business. our meetings with Hulu and their content providers reinforced that point. the fact that it’s becoming easy to consume Internet video on a TV brings into question many of the industry’s business models that developed before the web. that’s part of the reason why Hulu asked to be removed from boxee. our meetings over the past week weren’t able to change that. but the people in the industry “get it”. they are users. they read the blogs. they talk with users. they are trying to adjust to a new reality, but they need time.

So in the meanwhile, Boxee has come out with a new Alpha version, with a built-in RSS reader optimized for video. Hulu has an RSS feed. Ergo, viewers will be able to subscribe to the Hulu RSS feed. It's not perfect, and it likely won't be quite as pretty as the Hulu player was on Boxee, but it's a workaround for now that everyone should be able to live with. And will likely keep some folks away from less savory download options.

There are two other new features available in the new Alpha (which you can
download), according to the blog:

  • App Box - this is a first take at an application “store” that makes it easy for users to install new apps and plugins. there is also native support for 3rd party repositories, so you don’t have to rely on boxee as a gatekeeper for what goes into the official boxee app store. for example, you can add dir.boxeehq.com as a repository to get access to all the boxeehq.com apps.
  • auto update - long time in the making and really bad form on our part for not having it from the beginning. but better later than never. no need to check on Twitter or our blog to know that there is a new version. now you’ll be prompted to update boxee whenever there is a new release ready.
There's also a Boxee meetup in Manhattan on the 24th, if you're into that sort of thing.
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