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Doing Hard Things

February 18th, 2009 by Jason Kilar CEO

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” — Walt Disney

Later this week, Hulu’s content will no longer be available through Boxee. While we never had a formal relationship with Boxee, we are under no illusions about the likely Boxee user response from this move. This has weighed heavily on the Hulu team, and we know it will weigh even more so on Boxee users.

Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes. While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.

Our mission to make media dramatically easier and more user-focused has not changed and will not change. We will not stop until we achieve it and we are sober in our assessment that we have such a long way to go.

The maddening part of writing this blog entry is that we realize that there is no immediate win here for users. Please know that we take very seriously our role of representing users such that we are able to provide more and more content in more and more ways over time. We embrace this activity in ways that respect content owners’ — and even the entire industry’s — challenges to create great content that users love. Yes, it’s a complex matter. A tough mission, and a never-ending one, but one we are passionately committed to.

For those Boxee users reading this post, we understand and appreciate that you’re likely to tell us that we’re nuts. Please know that we do share the same interests and won’t stop innovating in support of the bigger mission.

Jason Kilar (),
CEO, Hulu

Last comment: about 11 hours ago 1,763 Comments
  • […] HULU got yanked off Boxee last week, and this week a great episode of TWIT discussed why. First, a primer: […]

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  • […] Hulu.com kicked Boxee off their system by, from what I can tell, changing the algorithm/method that is used to determine the playlist PID […]

  • Great Fez says:

    The one issue I have with you is that you don’t give the real explanation behind your decision. I can only guess its because the original Boxee allowed for some “hacking”, they wouldn’t cough up some dough, or there is some alignment issues between partners and competitors.

    So which is it really?

  • Mike says:

    After reading the CEO’s letter I have decided to cancel my Hulu plus account which I just started a week ago. For two reasons the first reason being that I started the account under the impression that my wife would be able to watch her Bravo network. You can, you just cannot on your Ruko device or a Boxee device as it is a web only network. The 2nd reason is that preventing a device from using hulu plus is like saying if you have a mac or a pc or a linux computer you can not use it. I could understand this issue had it not been available on a boxee device already but there is no work for Hulu to do. Hulu I hope that you will change your mind in to preventing your users that are willing to pay you for your service and content and still have ads. I believe this is a bad business decision even if it is to sell or to merge you never want to loose a paying customer. Unless you are making a deal with Ruko you should seriously reconsider.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  • avisos says:

    what is exactly boxee?

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  • Michael says:

    What these content providers are doing is not smart at all,they are such small minded individualities.

  • bstempi says:

    It would be nice if this issue was revisited. A Hulu app for the Boxee would would be really nice.

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  • Mister Peabody says:

    What is Hulu? Never heard of it.

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  • Huluminus says:

    I cancelled Hulu+ due to this. You may rely on content providers for, well, content, but you rely on consumers to fund your purchase of said content.

    p.s. Thanks for the partial refund ;)

  • tylerh says:

    Let’s go. Make it happen, already!

  • Rondo says:

    I have absolutely no interest in Hulu Plus since it cannot interface with my Boxee Box. I will spend my money elsewhere.

  • Satyen says:

    It’s unfortunate this continues to be unresolved. With the launch of Hulu Plus and Boxee’s ability to manage its subscriptions, I would think this would be an easy win for both parties, and would be a nice add-on for whichever organization wants to buy Hulu during this bidding process. It’s a much better alternative for consumers when compared to the pricing model for AppleTV.

  • john says:

    huh. was thinking about hulu plus, but if it won’t play with my boxee, forget it.

  • Karl says:

    Well with Boxee Box being so new this move will change a lot of buying decisions away from Boxee

  • Don Decker says:

    I know this is an old post, but the debate still remains. The best thing is to just connect a computer to the TV and watch everything that’s out there. I use the iVox.tv app http://www.ivox.tv/app It has a full featured web browser built in so I can watch all the content that’s out there. I use my iPhone to control the cursor from my couch. Nice setup.. No restrictions.

  • Dean says:

    Heres my problem here, it is just so much easier for my kids to hop onto the boxee i created for them, i put some of their dvds on it, and they are allowed to pick some shows… hulu being gone makes it so frustrating as now they can’t watch half of what they used too. yeah i could bring it up via internet, but that is not easy for the kids to deal with.

  • a_p3rson says:

    I don’t see how watching it in Boxee is any different from watching it in another browser. All that Boxee does is put it in full screen and add play and pause controls to it. They still have the adverts you guys put in there, there’s really no change. If you would like to maybe make it so the Boxee version is with a few more ads, I think the entire community would be much more happy.

  • Bryant Bair says:

    Well, right now Hulu seems to think that my computer is a Boxee and won’t let me watch Hulu Plus which I have paid for. I had never heard of Boxee before it popped up on my Hulu so I guess Hulu is doing their advertising for them.

  • Bill Daly says:

    I’m officially boycotting Hulu for their shameful money-hungry practices & disrespect of the tech community!! Discrimination is discusting!!

    Face it Jason… you are NO advocate for “the bigger picture”!! It’s clear your ability to convince the content providers of reality is pathetic at best or you are too busy keeping silent with all that marketing money coming in from ad revenues. To say you all are doing good and are on our side is disrespectful at best and a lie at worst! Don’t lie to us an tell us you aren’t making money out of this either cause your overhead is very little compared to commericial revenues you are undoubtedly receiving!

    Why don’t you remind the content providers of all the piracy and lost revenues not hitting their pockets because of their inability to embrace the future. An infant could have made a more compelling case than you have in defense of this hard reality facing them. Content providers who feel they are in control of their own destinies should put there finger in a bowl of water and see the impression thats left when they pull their finger out… none! Apple convinced the music industry to embrace the future… you can do the same for IPTV and content providers!

    Discriminating against specific browsers and innovations is only going to lead to informal monopolies and more theft not only of Hulu’s content providers content, but of the people who work only for the love of technology to provide people with innovative solutions, as well as discouraging inventors entirely. Nobody will win this war… nobody!

    I would encourage you to countinuously reach out to intelligent advocates of the IPTV movement, innovators and content providers continuously, until this delima is resolved… not only for the future success or lack there of for Hulu, but also for the cause which you so falsely defend! I know someone out there has the ability to convince fairly intelligent people of reasonable efforts… this is who you must find to vigorously defend your “so-called” intentions!

    I will continue to boycott Hulu until I find a genuine and considerable effort from you personally to making this commitment, as a representative of the IPTV community!!!

    Regards,

    Bill Daly

  • Cristobal Escamilla says:

    Now that hulu plus is available, I won’t be paying for it if I can’t get hulu in boxee, even if I do have a PS3 and a XBOX360 I could play it on… Boxee was so inexpesnvie and great it rocked, it´s been one year, what are you waiting to solve it? 1 year is no “short term” in digital industry.

  • Bob says:

    You guys should bring Hulu back to Boxee, I think you’re making a huge mistake.

  • Bill says:

    According to the article, nothing was hacked. It was a viral scheme. This isn’t hacking, its people voting.

  • Mike Clauss/fellow ex-amazonian says:

    Jason, I think the title of your post says it all- its a tough spot between corporate interests and the consumer demands. In the short term I think people will still enjoy Hulu as its still a great experience in its online form. Over the longer term, this obviously has to be addressed as the convergence in the living room continues and grows..m

  • [...] contradicts what Hulu CEO Jason Kilar wrote at the time. In a blog post entitled “Doing Hard Things” in which he explained the situation, Kilar wrote that it [...]

  • M.H. Elliott says:

    Though we have had a professional check our internet connection and set up a profile with Hulu, no matter which show we click on we continue to receive the following:
    ” Sorry, we are unable to stream this video. Please check your internet connection and try again.”
    Please advise.
    Thank you,
    M.H. Elliott

  • pat says:

    no sound from hulu on my computer
    i receive sound from other stations
    i

  • Paul D says:

    Mr. Kilar your thoughts make perfect sense and I agree. The best way to win this battle is to show your willingness to work with the networks. I am sure all rasonable people understand that your great idea and admorable ambition is not leverage to try and play hardball with network giants,

    I would like to thank”K2″ for wasting all of our time! What kind of issues one must have to spend ones days searching blogs for a type-o, mispelled word or a grammar slip.

  • J.C. says:

    Hulu worked fine (smoothly & in sync) with my iMac G4/800 15″ (2002) from 9-08 to 8-10-09.

    OS 10.4.11, Firefox, FLASH 10, AT&T Yahoo!”Pro” DSL (2.57 mbps)

    1GB RAM, 32MB of Nivida Geforce 2X AGP VRAM, 7200 rpm HDD.

    Ever since then Hulu takes half an hour to get up to speed….. be it TV or Movies.

    EVENTUALLY it plays fine, and then next program is also fine.

    What gives??

    Jesse F. Carroll

  • Confused says:

    what is so hard about inserting ads into the flv stream and allowing any client to watch it?

  • Dawn says:

    The users are blaming the wrong guys. Hulu doesn’t hold the copyright on any of the content they make available to us. The person who wanted to know “what happened to the little startup……” should realize that when HULU was the new kid on block and they were flying under the radar, it was much easier to make loads of content available. Anyone who had illusions of that situation going on unchecked was kidding themselves. As soon as the networks took an interest in what they were doing, I knew things would change.
    You should commend HULU for their efforts to bring us the content, while still remaining in the good graces of the networks and on the right side of the law.
    Label HULU practices any way you choose, but realize that if they don’t play by the rules they’ll get crushed by the networks. The fact that they are still up and running says a lot.
    I’m sure any one who is out there chanting “fight the man!!” will be welcome to hire on at HULU provided you are willing to accept resposibility for 100% of the extremely large lawsuits that will follow when you “fight the man” .
    Hulu, thanks for trying. I miss someof the content we’ve lost but I still watch regularly. I appreciate your efforts.

    PS. K2, are you friggin’ kidding me? regards, from someone who could care less about the poor guy’s grammar.

  • Brokenhearted says:

    Dear Hulu,

    you should have had the willingness to support YOUR interest by supporting YOUR viewers; instead, you bowed to the networks.

    What happened to the innovative little startup with a disruptive technology and the right attitude? Did you stop to think about what a move like says about the commitment to your value proposition? I know that you will simply color me as yet another (insignificant) comment on your blog.

    So long,

    Brokenhearted

    P.S.: Remember the old adage about the satisfied versus unsatisfied customers telling their friends? That was before the social media factor. You do the math!

  • Superdave says:

    It is unclear to me specifically, what about displaying Hulu feeds through Boxee would cause either Hulu or its content providers to lose a financial opportunity.

    If the content providers’ ads work on Boxee it shouldn’t be the content providers. Boxee is just an appliance / viewer tool and nothing else.

    If Hulu can and intends to come up with a better media center appliance / viewer tool than Boxee, then great, consumers will have more choices… after all Boxee has quite a few shortcomings. Nevertheless, in the interim, Hulu should logically still be trying to get their content to the largest audience possible.

    So this all makes no sense… I would like to see Hulu declare their reasons in clearer terms that consumers can understand and believe. Otherwise I am afraid as others have said, we have to assume by exclusion that this is points to some deceptive or dishonest corporate culture issues.

  • K Ketner says:

    Please share this with Mr. Kilar:

    I am viewing you on Charlie Rose. PLEASE learn NOT to use the term “regard” as “regards”! It is not correct AND diminishes your credibility. This is a decades-established effort on my part. It is important. It is “with regard” … “in regard” … it is not “in regards.” Stop it! It makes you seem juvenile. The only time you add the “s” is at the bottom of a letter — and that is a different term.

    Seriously,

    K2

  • Shawn says:

    I just started watching Hulu. Found it easier than trying to find episodes “somewhere else”. But I wanted to use my OWN front end not the desktop or browser. I’m more than willing to watch the commercials… In fact, I even voted on them to show support for the “new” TV format. Alas, you force me back to finding other sources for my programming. No, networks, it won’t be cable. And don’t kid yourselves…. The stuff that passes for entertainment these days is not worth too much effort to find. “If it ain’t easy and it ain’t my way, I ain’t watchin”. Oh, and if I ain’t watchin’ I ain’t putting eyeballs on your precious commercials either.

  • Kara says:

    So sad I slowly am seeing the erosion of our Constitution being dismantled piece by piece till soon we will have nothing left to save but ourselves. I also hear that our “puppet masters” also want to make the internet just like our televisons, and we will no longer have free domains to see what ” WE, THE PEOPLE..”want, it will all be controlled just like our television.. Then I read your letter, and I hope people really stop being so submissive to what is going on…wake up !!.Open your eyes, research everything and anything you can, and do something ;because “WE THE PEOPLE..” are still in control here…stand up for your rights as an American and for your families and friends!! Question these people who are taking those things away from us and get answers…

  • [...] with the recent news and events about Hulu content being taken off of Boxee because Hulu’s content partners [...]

  • Glapy says:

    Hmm. Is it true? :-)

  • Cable Sucks says:

    Regardless of any steps that Hulu and its partners may take, the internet will eventually shut down cable tv and everyone will say good riddance. People will not accept the ridiculous anti-capitalist arrangement that cable companies have with government, where people have no other option for service than the one appointed to their area. I wouldn’t accept having only one choice in anything, and entertainment is no exception. So until the greed stops, I will be pirating everything possible, and recruiting anyone i can to join me….i have already moved 2 friends and 1 family member off of cable. Please join this fight, teach people how to get content without paying for cable and lets shut these money hungry ass-wipes down for good!

  • Scott says:

    I think hulu.com should take this one step further and limit viewing hulu to Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0. Let’s limit the audience as much as possible!! That will show the consumer who is boss.

  • Andreea says:

    Boxee and Hulu and the like just seem to be getting things back to the way they were. Doesn’t anybody remember way back in the day when cable was first started? Cable initially was advertised as “Pay for TV, so you don’t have to watch commercials anymore on the Free TV networks (ABC, CBS etc.)” TV was free, was always free for the major networks broadcasting because it was supported by advertising. Cable stations you paid for were supported by your subscription and offered no commercials in return. Then they slowly started trickling in some commercials here and there until we were paying for ad-ridden television. The original model was pay for no ads, or don’t pay and sit through ads. Paying to sit through ads is just silly.

    The current model is just greedy, and the market will right itself with or without the support of big business TV. If you don’t want your content downloaded illegally, stop making everyone jump through hoops to watch it.

  • [...] Boxee from accessing its content.  Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, made a passionate blog post about why Hulu was removing Boxee access. Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and [...]

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  • [...] anderen hat Boxee eine andauernde Fehde mit Hulu. Hulu kann aus lizenzrechtlichen Gründen seine Inhalte nicht über Boxee abspielen lassen und hat deshalb den Zugriff via Boxee geblockt. Aber auch [...]

  • BRuce Reed says:

    I’ve simply stopped watching Hulu. Plenty of other feeds and sources for most of what I watch and I WILL use Boxee. Idiots.

  • Matt says:

    You fail to recognize that your customers are more important than your content providers. One of those two groups gives you a paycheck, the other gives you a spiff. Think about that, since you clearly haven’t.

  • [...] enables you to stream online video to your TV set. In a blog posted titled “Doing Hard Things,” Hulu CEO Jason Kilar apologized to users. “Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee [...]

  • [...] enables you to stream online video to your TV set. In a blog posted titled “Doing Hard Things,” Hulu CEO Jason Kilar apologized to users. “Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee [...]

  • [...] At last, hulu has not made content available any easier even in the living room, by most recently prohibiting its content from being shown through boxee, a free media center [...]

  • Zach says:

    Hulu team… please continue to push this issue. There are still ways of doing this of course (video cards with hdmi / svideo) but that’s not the point.

    Everyone else… Allow me to play Devil’s advocate for a moment. Content providers are afraid that people will stop watching shows via local networks where multiple local and regional adverts take place. When you say “I don’t even have cable anymore” you reaffirm their concern. That’s exactly why they want the content restricted to the “small” screen only.

    Hopefully a comprimise will be reached that will not result in a pay service. That will only result in piracy.

  • Joshua Kaiser says:

    I am with the above users who are requesting information on the specific media groups who made a stink about this – or at the very least a complete list of partners so the Hulu and Boxee users may petition the entire set of them without bias. Personally, I would be in favor of siting the media companies who think their content is so golden and just boycott everything they produce until they get on board with the direction media delivery is headed.

  • Anthony says:

    I understand the need to make your content providers happy, but if you plan on removing Hulu from Boxee, then you should at least offer a replacement.

    I’d be fine with a Hulu desktop app (for MAC) that gives me the same functionality as Boxee (so I can still watch Hulu videos without getting out of bed).

  • Devin Mitchell says:

    There is more to this than just the streaming of content and ads i believe. When you go to hulu’s webpage there are ads there that they want you to see also.

    I use XBMC on my Ubuntu Linux 9.04 computer which is attached to my TV via HDMI and loved hulu on it.

    One simple solution that i can see is to develop your own media app or plugin for boxee or XBMC that not only streams ads and content, but also shows static ads while browsing for videos to view. Im pretty sure the devs for boxee and XBMC would be more than willing to give some help or insight on how to make this happen.

    I know that big media is deathly afraid of open-source software, but that’s really the way the worlds moving towards, and if easy ways to access this content that people desire are not given, coders and hackers will make it possible regardless and leave the content owners out of control of their material.

    So to all you content owners: Do you want hackers in control of your materials or do you want to take control and let users access your content in the way they want but by your terms?

    Its a brave new world people; embrace it, or become another target for pirates.

  • bwvalentine says:

    I don’t even know what boxee is, but for some reason I can’t get any video to work on hulu anymore, and despite all of my efforts to get ANY RESPONSE from hulu, I haven’t heard a single thing.

    If you guys continue to treat your patrons this way, you will be lucky if ANYONE is left. As for me, I’m sick of your crap.

  • im new to this site so ive got nothing to complain about so hulu is gona change the way we look at tv good i like my tv with clear picutre good shows an no brain eating besides my head is full of junk that will not digest in the belly or whatever you alieans have inside. so move on to another world nothin for ya here but i think id would be fun to see good guys lose isnt it about time for the bad guys and girls to win? lets see a lot of this on tv ok. patrick

  • One thing that I don’t understand is why aren’t Hulu partner’s Internet web shows still available on Boxee? I understand that the old media companies might not want their programming on Boxee, but have new media companies complained?

  • John H. says:

    I think this type of behavior is why the content providers (i.e., television/cable stations) are going to be on their way out. I am considering canceling my cable for this type of behavior alone. I think it very inconsiderate to the viewers of Hulu to cancel Boxee support. Boxee is like any other browser. It’s not like Boxee viewers are getting around the ads somehow. They just want to watch their Hulu inside the confines of Boxee instead of inside the confines of a web browser.

    CONTENT PROVIDERS… PEOPLE WANT CHOICES! If you want to be around in a few years you need to respect that and allow users to watch media where they want. If you do not adapt you’ll soon topple like the record industry has. Please allow Hulu on Boxee!

  • James says:

    I discovered and downloaded boxee after reading the story about Boxee cutting out HULU. So maybe its better for Boxee in the end.

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