Whoops! Hulu Removed (Again) from Boxee

UPDATE: The back and forth continues. According to an updated blog post at Boxee last night, Hulu is back up and running.

This is a case where no definitely means no. Hulu‘s content is once again gone from Boxee. To recap:

In October, Boxee integrated Hulu content into its media platform, creating an elegant way for users to experience Hulu video on televisions.

Last month, under pressure from its content partners, Hulu asked to have its content removed from Boxee’s media platform. Boxee agreed and all access to Hulu was removed.

This morning, Boxee released a workaround that used public RSS feeds to enable Hulu content on the service.

This afternoon, Hulu blocked Boxee’s latest move. Boxee sent us the following statement:

“we just found out that Hulu blocked the boxee browser from accessing the Hulu site. this is a disappointing development since their RSS feeds are publicly available, and our browser, while optimized for a great 10 ft video experience, is no different in how it accesses this content than Internet Explorer, Firefox, Flock, Opera or any of the other browsers out there.”

We’ve asked Hulu why it has banned Boxee and will update when we hear back. But there is precedent for Hulu blocking people from its content. It creates blacklists to prevent its embeds from appearing on undesirable sites (i.e. porn), and it also sent a cease-and-desist letter to rampant Hulu embedder OPENHulu. However, it has allowed other sites such as Veoh to use Hulu content with no official relationship.

Developments like this throw up serious red flags to us over Boxee’s viability going forward. Sure, it may be a great service, but will it be spending its time in a constant back and forth with its content sources? It’s not just Hulu. Boxee and Apple go through similar cycles of Boxee being wiped out from the Apple TV, requiring the user to reinstall. Will this tug of war cause people to fall out of love with Boxee as content appears then disappears?


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