Hulu cuts off users of Boxee video software

February 23, 2009

Hulu, the television Web site owned by NBC and the News Corp., last week stopped allowing its programming to be shown through Boxee, a new Internet start-up.

Boxee is a free software package that combines multiple sources of Internet video content in an easy-to-use interface.

Jason Kilar, Hulu’s chief executive, said the content companies that back Hulu asked him to take the action. “While we never had a formal relationship with Boxee, we are under no illusions about the likely Boxee user response from this move,” Kilar wrote. “This has weighed heavily on the Hulu team, and we know it will weigh even more so on Boxee users.”

Media reports said NBC and News Corp. might have been uncomfortable with the idea that many early Boxee testers were using the software to send video to their television sets, sometimes by installing it on their Apple TV set-top boxes. That meant the shows that appeared on Hulu were competing directly with the same programs that the networks were distributing through traditional channels like cable and satellite.

Avner Ronen, Boxee’s chief executive, said his company would try to resolve its differences with Hulu. “Our goal has always been to drive users to legal sources of content that are publicly available on the Internet,” Ronen wrote on his blog. “We have many content partners who are generating revenue from Boxee users and we will work with Hulu and their partners to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

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