Boxee’s on-again, off-again love affair with Hulu has been one of the more frustrating elements of the otherwise excellent media player, and while we pondered out loud last month that paywall propositions from both companies might lead to a more amicable arrangement, it seems the entertainment industry knives are still out. Earlier this week, Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC, accused Boxee of “illegally taking” Hulu content and that NBC would be “open to negotiations” with the software firm; Boxee have responded by denying that they have done anything illegal, and pointed at the content providers, not Hulu, for insisting on the block.
“I’d like to set the record straight regarding Boxee’s access to Hulu. Boxee uses a web browser to access Hulu’s content – just like Firefox or Internet Explorer. Boxee users click on a link to Hulu’s website and the video within that page plays. We don’t “take” the video. We don’t copy it. We don’t put ads on top of it. The video and the ads play like they do on other browsers or on Hulu Desktop. And it certainly is legal to do so.” Avner Ronen, Boxee
Zucker told the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet that Hulu’s management had decided to block Boxee’s access, and that NBC were in fact open to negotiations. However Boxee’s statement from Hulu clearly stated that “Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes”; moreover Boxee claim NBC has never been receptive to attempts to negotiate.
Boxee announced last month that it would be launching a premium content service over the coming summer, and the first standalone Boxee Box by D-Link will soon be on shelves. Meanwhile Hulu are tipped to be considering a premium bundling scheme of their own, with a $4.99 paywall for some of the more popular shows they offer.