Chess match: Hulu blocks Boxee once again

Hulu moves once again to block Boxee. Boxee managers say that Hulu can't win because Boxee's community has the upper hand.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

2nd Update 10:10 a.m. Saturday: To include an updated statement from Boxee.

Update 4:30 p.m. To include quote from Boxee blog post.

Less than a day after Boxee made adjustments to again access Hulu's content, the video portal responded Friday by again blocking Boxee. But on Saturday morning, Boxee presumably made more changes and the service was back to accessing Hulu (who can keep up?).

Boxee is a startup that streams Web video to television set-top boxes. Dave Mathews, who works as an evangelist and adviser to the company, expressed frustration Friday at what has become a game of cat and mouse between the two companies. Mathews said that this a game Hulu can't win.

"These guys are so shortsighted," Mathews said. "It's an RSS reader. What our open-source community will do is just make the Boxee browser look at the Firefox browser."

Mathews said Hulu is obviously blocking Boxee's browser. He described a situation where the two companies enjoy a good relationship and fighting is pointless.

A Hulu spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.

"Boxee is one of the referring IDs," Mathews said. "We do that on purpose. By excluding our browser they are making a biased move. It would be just like them shutting off Chrome. We're trying to empower the customer.

"From Day 1, we played by their game plan," Mathews said. "We want a good relationship with them."

Boxee released a statement on the company's blog Friday afternoon.

"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...while some of the best things in life are free, sometimes you have to work hard to get them."

Last month, Hulu said in a blog post that its content suppliers asked the video portal to cut off Boxee's access to Hulu content. ""We are respecting their wishes," Hulu said in the post.

Brad Stone at The New York Times was first to report this story.

Boxee CEO Avner Ronen told CNET News last month that he would try and convince Hulu executives Boxee was good for the video site and content producers. On Friday, it became obvious those talks had come to little and Boxee decided to take matters into its own hands.

"Like IE, Firefox, or Google Reader, the RSS reader supports Google Video, Yahoo, YouTube and feeds from many other websites," Avner wrote in a blog post. "While it's not as attractive or robust as our previous Hulu application, it will additionally support Hulu's public RSS feeds."