Boxee, Hulu Continue Battle
The once-pleasant harmony between Boxee and Hulu has now soured into a push-and-pull battle for Boxee to gain permanent access to Hulu's content. Hulu access was suspended last month and separate blog posts by both Hulu and Boxee indicate they were eager to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Since then, access has been given and taken away several times.
On Saturday, it looked as though Boxee had nabbed its mouse using public RSS feeds. "As we've seen over the past few weeks, users will take matters into their own hands to get the content they want. Witnessing this, we've decided to enable access to their favorite content using a new built-in RSS reader optimized for video," Boxee wrote in a blog post. This work-around enabled users to view Hulu content in a pared-down iteration of the site.
Hulu caught on and removed Boxee access once again. The Boxee blog expressed frustration and disappointment, and followed up with a cryptic comment that made it appear as though it hasn't given up yet: "To our users: if you choose to use Boxee as your media browser to view legal and publicly available content on the internet, we will do everything we can to ensure that you can access it, no matter what the source." Boxee has placed a status message on the top-right corner of the main screen to indicate whether Hulu is available that day -- or hour, or minute.
Hulu, meanwhile, has kept quiet during the proceedings, giving no comments to journalists and avoiding the entire discussion on its blog.
What was once a regretful yet mutually understood problem between two companies and content providers has now turned into a messy battle to reclaim turf. Boxee is working for its customer's best interests -- the company is double-checking all of its possibilities to get Hulu content back. Hulu, though sympathetic toward the situation, is functioning in the content provider's best interests and shutting down Boxee access because it was asked to, and asked Boxee to do the same.
So while Boxee is working for the public, it is also fighting against those responsible for generating the content to give to the public. This kind of behavior could turn many business opinions against Boxee, which, in turn, will only further enrage the consumer base.
Next steps for the respective companies are not certain. Dave Mathews, an advisor for Boxee, told CNET that since Hulu is "obviously" blocking the Boxee browser, the Boxee community will "make the Boxee browser look at the Firefox browser." This kind of technical wrangling seems like it'd eventually get discovered and further enrage Hulu.
Hulu will likely comment on the battle in short time before making a big announcement that will either block Boxee forever or work out a solution wherein access is once again, and permanently, granted. Some are buzzing that Hulu is behaving this way because it might be developing its own set-top streaming box and doesn't want competition. Either way, it appears the battle between Boxee and Hulu will get uglier before it gets prettier.