Hulu’s Dead Embeds: The Perils of Online Streaming


We noticed this week that an embedded version of The Breakfast Club in an early post of ours about Hulu had gone missing. The embed (see screenshot below) displays a message saying to watch the movie on the site. But if you head over to Hulu, The Breakfast Club has been taken out of its search index. A page for the movie is still up, with no video available and the last user review posted two months ago.

We contacted Hulu to ask what had happened to that favorite ’80s teen angst flick. A spokesperson said the movie “expired on our site due to rights issues for the content.”

Other movies removed from the site since launch, she said, include Breaking Away, The Blues Brothers, and Conan the Barbarian.

Expiring episodes is all too common for streaming television shows, but comes as a bit of a surprise for these old movies. And dead streams are exacerbated by Hulu’s liberal embedding policy, because they show up in empty players all around the web, like the one in our story.

On the plus side, while we were talking to Hulu about their movie inventory we asked if they were still getting just the TV versions (meaning the heavily censored versions) of movies, as they had been at launched. Which just doesn’t make sense when you’re talking about pictures like The Big Lebowski. The company said that in the couple of months since its public launch, most of the movies it has gotten rights to publish have been in their original DVD or theatrical state. It now looks like movies with mature content require Hulu users to be logged in and of the appropriate age. Cheers to that, I’ll hypocritically toast: it’s a h**l of a better plan than altering your content to play by the rules.


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