Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on February 21, 2009
On Thursday www.hulu.com announced that they will not permit viewers who are using Boxee software to access Internet Video streams.
Hulu is a website owned by NBC and Fox that provides high quality streaming of popular television shows and movies. Most of the shows are from NBC and Fox, but others are also available such as Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report. The website is entirely legal and supported with advertising. Additionally, there are over 100 movies.
Boxee offers free software for Apple computers (and Apple TV) enabling the devices to access a larger number of online sites, like Hulu, where Internet Video is legitimately available. Boxee’s basic advantage is that it permits users to control the interface with a simple six-button remote made by Apple.
There are two ramifications. First, it permits Apple TV users to get Internet Video at many websites instead of merely iTunes, and watch them on the TV. Second, if an Apple computer is connected to a television, the user gets to watch the Internet Video on the TV screen and control it with a simple remote.
Hulu has been told by Fox and NBC to deny access to consumers using Boxee software. The parent companies apparently don’t want Hulu content to display on a TV screen.
First, consumers will discover that laptop computers and flat-panel TVs have common connection sockets. Once mated the TV acts as a giant monitor for the laptop and the computer functions as a Media Controller for the TV. The laptop’s on-board WiFi links to a home network and thence to the Internet. This provides unlimited access to Internet Videos, including Hulu, on the TV screen. Given a remote mouse and keyboard the consumer gets a comfortable lean-back viewing experience 15 – 20 distant from the TV screen.
Contrary to received wisdom, the Laptop-as-Media-Controller is not “geeky” as demonstrated by this video. Fox and NBC will learn that anyone who knows how to use a Browser can get Hulu on the TV screen. Although, Boxee is not technically a Browser, it is being used as one with a simplified interface. Since nearly every computer user knows how to use a Browser, Fox and NBC have shot-themselves-in-the-foot by banning Boxee.
Second, once the Laptop-as-Media-Controller is set-up, there’s nothing to stop users from downloading pirated copies of TV shows and movies to watch on their TVs.
The men and women who run NBC and Fox would not have become leaders in such a prominent industry if they were not hard-working and smart. No doubt they have proven themselves to be big money-makers, which is the raison d’etre for all businesses that don’t command Government bailouts.
Despite their proven abilities they are failing to recognize when what is new is more significant than what is familiar. They are deluding themselves to think they can stop Internet Video from getting to the TV.
Instead, they can focus on finding ways to generate revenues from Internet Video that are unavailable in conventional television. For example, Hulu can be more creative with interactive advertising instead of the pre-post-and-mid-rolls that dominate presently. Companies like YuMe Networks enable such interactivity. They not only enhance ad revenues, but can execute purchase transactions with the viewer.