“Another one gone and another one gone, another one bites the dust.” First Hulu wiped its content from rival video portal TV.com, now comes word that Hulu is bowing to the demands of its content masters and has asked to be removed from Boxee‘s media center platform.
This is a pretty big blow to New York-based Boxee, which had no formal relationship with Hulu and was just gaining some traction with users. It also highlights how Boxee, like Hulu, is not entirely in control of its own destiny but is dependent on outside content providers. Up to this point, Boxee had provided access to Hulu, Netflix, ABC, CBS, MTV and more for free.
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar explained in a blog post:
Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes. While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.
Boxee has a post up on the situation as well:
two weeks ago Hulu called and told us their content partners were asking them to remove Hulu from boxee. we tried (many times) to plead the case for keeping Hulu on boxee, but on Friday of this week, in good faith, we will be removing it.
This sucks for people (like myself) who were thinking of shutting off their cable. Boxee provided a free, one-stop user interface to watch video from a variety of sources.
Hulu’s move and earlier actions from Apple to prevent Boxee from running on an Apple TV highlight how Boxee is not entirely in control of its destiny. The company is not just a side project; it has venture capitalists to answer to after receiving $4 million in VC funding from Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital last fall.
This comes at a time when cable companies like Comcast are missing their subscriber goals. Perhaps over-the-top video delivery is getting too good and convenient and the operators are putting the heat on the networks to limit the online outlets through which people can access online video on their big-screen TVs. Will other networks on Boxee, like ABC and CBS, follow suit?
Here’s a video interview we recently did with Boxee CEO Avner Ronen: