Boxee And Hulu Trade Blows In Congressional Hearing

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News Posted: Mon, Feb 8 2010 1:30 AM
The relationship between Boxee and Hulu has been strained ever sinceearly 2009, when Hulu suddenly and unexpectedly removed its contentfrom being available to Boxee users. If you're not aware, Boxee ismerely a software overlay that acts as a portal to web content; itessentially opens content from web sites the same way a typical webbrowser would, but for whatever reason, Boxee claims that NBC Universal(who owns Hulu content) requested that all Hulu content be yanked fromBoxee.

Strangely, not much has been said about the ordeal since 2009. Call itthe Cold War of Content, if you will. Recently, the United StatesCongress become an unexpected venue for the discussion surrounding thedeadlock to continue, and both sides had interesting viewpoints on thestandoff. The hearing was called to discuss the proposed acquisition ofNBC Universal by Comcast, but things got interesting with the Chairmanof the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet,Rep. Rick Boucher, asked Jeff Zucker (CEO of NBC) “What about Boxee?”. Here’s the clip with the transcript below:

    Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA): What about Boxee? Mr. Zucker you probably are in a better position to answer that. Did Hulu block the Boxee users from access to the Hulu programs?

    Zucker (NBC): This was a decision made by the Hulu management to, uh, what Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal. And, you know, all, all the, we have several distributors, actually many distributors of the Hulu content that we have legal distribution deals with so we don’t preclude distribution deals. What we preclude are those who illegally take that content.

    Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA): “Well would you have negotiations with Boxee upon request?”

    Zucker (NBC): “We have always said that we’re open to negotiations.”

Boxee responded to the transcript by saying that its software "uses aweb browser to access Hulu’s content – just like Firefox or InternetExplorer." The company also pointed out that Boxee doesn't steal videoor put ads on top of it, and while Mr. Zucker maintains that theoriginal decision was made by Hulu’s management, Boxee asserts that theoriginal request came from NBC. What's interesting here is that Boxeeisn't out for blood; they're simply out to make things right for theconsumer. Boxee states that they are open to negotiations, and thatthey'll be contacting Zucker in hopes of getting some sort of agreementin place. That's exactly the kind of stuff we like to hear. Hopefullythis programming nightmare will be behind us soon enough, and themillion+ Boxee users can finally access Hulu's stock of content withoutresorting to alternative means.
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3vi1 replied on Mon, Feb 8 2010 1:11 PM

Hulu wants to make money at both ends of this: Money from advertisers, and money from "partners" (who receive nothing more than what Hulu gives the web for free).

Yes:  Hulu wants to charge "partners" for giving them more viewers. For a company that's making massive profits off the advertising, this looks very greedy.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?


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rapid1 replied on Mon, Feb 8 2010 1:15 PM

I agree 3vi1, but at the basis of the NBC Comcast issue as a active Comcast subscriber I hope it does not go through. This would be a monopoly of vast proportions in a short amount of time I think.

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