No Invite? No Problem. How to Hulu Now

Video content site Hulu is still in closed beta, but between its distribution partners and the rise of Hulu clones, even those without an invite can watch all that sweet, sweet content.

If you want to go the official route, you can watch Hulu video through one of its syndication partners. MySpace announced today that Hulu content is available at Primetime on MySpaceTV, completing the distribution rollout that’s also available through MSN, Yahoo, AOL, and Comcast’s Fancast.

Prefer the illicit thrill of not playing by the rules? Want to stick it to the man — while still sitting through the man’s ads? Then try one of the Hulu clones that have recently popped up.


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OpenHulu (pictured above) is a pretty bald-faced attempt to ride on Hulu’s coattails and make a little cash. OpenHulu is exactly what it sounds like, a site featuring all of Hulu’s content with no invite necessary, only it’s been all uglied up with a bevy of ads. Valleywag pegged OpenHulu’s operator, Matt Schlicht, as a shameless self-promoter, and writes that he’s been getting lots of hate mail. One of the letters apparently gripes that Schlicht’s workaround still doesn’t allow people in other countries to watch.

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Which is where TVParadise.org comes in. It was created by a French guy so non-Americans could watch Hulu content. While the gentleman behind TV Paradise wanted to remain anonymous, I was able to talk with him via email and IM. His decision to start up the site was pretty simple:

I think Hulu is a good initiative and the implementation exceeded my expectations (this being “old media” and all).
Except of course for the lock-out of non US viewers: being a “foreigner” in the eyes Hollywood, there is no free, easy and “approved” way to watch shows I like (SNL, Heroes, Journeyman, Dexter, Chuck, etc), unless of course I wanted to watch them translated, months later, on OldTeeVee.

TV Paradise is still just using embeds, and isn’t altering anything on the server side, so the site gets around geo-blocking by pointing people to a free VPN that will give them a U.S.-based IP address. Pretty sneaky, sis. The VPN won’t enable watching videos on Hulu.com, because the bit-rate of the streams is too high. But the embeds use a lower bit-rate, so the VPN works. According to the TV Paradise creator, the site had 5,000 visitors yesterday from all over the world including Germany, Australia, Canada, Singapore and India.

One change TV Paradise made was to allow Hulu’s embeds to go full-screen, which they normally don’t. TV Paradise does this by embedding the files in a flash movie with the sole function of enabling a full-screen view.

While he hasn’t ruled out monetizing the site, slapping ads on TV Paradise isn’t top of mind for its creator. “I don’t want to fill every pixel with ads that will get a few dollars,” he wrote in IM. “I know I don’t like that myself as a user.”

So far no one from Hulu has contacted TV Paradise. When asked for comment, Christina Lee of Hulu’s corporate communications said “Hulu encourages viral distribution of its service in accordance with its terms of use.” It appears to be a bit of a muddy area since Hulu does allow embedding on the open web, but is still restricting access to its home site. And embedding the file in a flash movie probably won’t help TV Paradise. But that’s for the lawyers to spend endless billable hours debating. If they need a break, we know where they can watch some video.


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