Why Hulu Should Embrace Boxee

For those that don’t know, Union Square Ventures is an investor in Boxee and I am on the board. For the past several weeks I have watched Boxee's management try their hardest to convince Hulu that Boxee is a big step forward for Hulu and Hulu's content partners.

Unfortunately, Boxee has yet to be successful with that effort and later this week Hulu content will disappear from Boxee. I hope it is a short separation that leads toward a long and happy relationship. Boxee's management is committed to working with Hulu to make that happen as Avner, Boxee's CEO outlined on the Boxee blog.

Boxee is a browser optimized for the 10 ft experience. Much like mobile browsers on phones, Boxee renders the content it finds on the web in a way that optimizes it for the device it runs on (in Boxee's case that is the TV). Boxee is also an RSS reader optimized for the 10 ft experience. Content owners may initially see broswers and RSS readers optimized for TV viewing as disruptive and threatening, but just like mobile browsers are the friend of content owners, so are TV browsers. And Boxee is by far the best TV browser out there for a host of reasons that I outlined in this post when we made our investment in Boxee.

Here's how I came to understand the power of Boxee.

I used to watch Hulu on my living room TV in the Safari browser:
Hulu on web

Now I watch Hulu on my living room TV in Boxee:
Hulu on boxee

It's the same content on the same device coming through the same pipe and the only difference is safari is a browser optimized for a computer with a keyboard and a mouse and Boxee is a browser optimized for a TV and a remote.

I spent some time this evening reading the comments on the Hulu blog post. I commend Hulu for being open and transparent about this decision and allowing the community to discuss and debate this decision out in the open. That's the way to do this kind of thing. Naturally, users are upset. There are over seventy comments already on the Hulu blog and over two hundred comments on the Boxee blog. As I tweeted earlier tonite, I hope that Hulu and its content partners take the time to read these comments and think about them.

There's a consistency to the comments and it is confusion first and foremost. Hulu users don't understand the distinction between watching Hulu through Firefox or Safari and wathicng Hulu through Boxee. And many of them are coming back to watching TV because they can watch over the internet, when they want, and how they want. They feel liberated by Hulu and Boxee and see them as a match made in heaven. Which they are. And I sure hope that Hulu and its content partners come to that realization quickly.

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