Hulu Rep Speaks Out on GoogleTV

It seems that I have a problem. Whenever something comes out with the Google logo on it, I am drawn to it in a way that has been described as “reason enough for scientists to rethink motion based physics”. I am a happy beta supporter, and feel that my opinion in those arenas help in some small way to engineer the future of that device. So, like every other Google product, I have a Logitech Revue. I accepted the device for what it was, despite not being able to fully enjoy it (I don’t yet have a HD cable box).

My wife, on the other hand, is not a fan of beta anything. When she purchases something, it had better work as advertised or she will likely never touch it again. Foolishly, I left my TV tuned to my Revue, and it’s keyboard out. My wife, assuming I had just gotten another keyboard for my HTPC, proceeded to navigate to Hulu and pick out an episode of House. Imagine her surprise when she was presented with Hulu’s denial message appeared, specifically targeting Google TV. Since Android Guys is a family focused organization, I can’t share the email she sent to Hulu expressing her opinion of how Hulu was handling Android devices and Google TV. I can, however, share the response she got within 4 hours from Hulu.

Hi Cassandra,

Thank you for writing to me. I will be more than happy to explain the situation. When we first launched (a few years before Hulu Plus) all the streaming
rights we had gathered for our content were for personal computers. Now that all these new television connected devices (like Google TV) and mobile devices like iPhones/iPads) have proliferated, we’ve been expanding our service by launching Hulu Plus in order to gather the rights to stream over those new devices. We have to renegotiate on a show by show basis and on a device per device basis and while we do have a lot of great content and devicesready for Hulu Plus, we’re still working to make it all available on all devices with an internet connection. Basically what it comes down to is a streaming rights issue. As of right now, we just simply do not have the rights to stream content from our website on Google TV platforms.

We have plans to bring Hulu Plus to as many devices as possible and are continually evaluating new technologies, and will be working to add more devices based on user demand. I have seen plenty of demand for Google TV (with good reason!) and hope I have better news for you soon as we work with our content providers and device manufacturers to get the rights for Hulu Plus to be streamed over more devices. Unfortunately, these negotiations sometimes take longer than we would hope but be assured we are working hard to expand our services! I do apologize for the frustration caused by this streaming rights discrepancy. It’s not our goal to block users from our services but we just don’t have the negotiations worked out to stream content onto Google TV devices yet. If you have any other questions or concerns, or if anything I described is unclear please get back in contact with me and I’ll be able to assist you further!

Hulu Support

At first glance, my gut told me this was a canned answer, something that got sent to anyone who used word combinations like “angry”, “Android”, or “Class Action Lawsuit” and “Never use your service again”. The more I read it, however, I felt that this actually came from a person, which made me a lot happier. If this is legitimately something that is temporarily out of Hulu’s control because they didn’t expect they would become so popular AND like everyone else there was no way to know that mobile would explode like it has, I could accept that. Will I pay for Hulu plus on my Google TV? No, probably not. Would I use Hulu’s ad supported system on Google TV? It’s a lot more likely now.

In short, Hulu is walking a short line. Either this is just a line they are feeding everyone so they can make an extra buck, or it’s a legitimate issue they hope to fix once they renew contracts. Does this excuse any of the other websites who have blocked Google TV? Of course not. The bottom line is Google TV is under harsh scrutiny because it blurs the line between computer and set top box. Users see a browser and expect it to act a certain way. If a user comes to a website on that browser and they find that the owner of that website has decided to deny content to that browser, the user will not take their aggression out on the browser. I think this is proof of that.

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  • jeagoss

    I don’t remember where, but I read an article talking about this exact situation. It wasn’t Hulu blocking access, but the content providers telling Hulu to block it. This is just more proof of a backwards thinking Hollywood being afraid of changing their ways for the future.

    • Nathan

      yup, it’s not hulu’s fault at all. they know how much money they’ll make if they bring hulu plus to everything. it’s just a pain in the ass dealing with the douchebags in hollywood.

  • Quentin Dewolf

    I actually am impressed that Hulu has negotiated the tv/hollywood nightmare as well as they have. At the rate they are moving i am hopefull that they will have something available before summer starts as they are interested in all platforms.

  • B

    A web browser is a web browser is a web browser…

    • AnonyMouse

      I agree – a web browser is a web browser. And if you notice, many of the people at Hulu are software developers, programmers, etc. so I’d guess that they agree with you, too. But the folks at Hulu are not filmmakers and they don’t make or own the TV shows, so they have to do what the people who own the shows say. Hulu knows that putting their shows everywhere makes them more money, so they obviously want to do that.

      There’s a good article from Ars Technica that explains it well: The people who own the shows (NBC, Fox, etc) make a lot of money from the cable providers (Comcast, Time Warner, etc) and that’s how networks make more TV shows. But if networks are putting their shows online, then cable companies say “Why should we pay you so much to make those shows if you’re just going to put them online and take subscribers away from us?” It’s so sad, but the Internet companies, like Hulu, are caught in the middle of a giant money battle between the networks and the cable companies.

  • Timothy

    Well — if it’s anything like the disappointing service on ROKU — then users won’t be missing anything. Hulu Plus is a complete and utter failure, in my opinion. Yes I tried it for a couple of months and cancelled it. Guess what — you pay and still have to sit through commercials. And the biggest kicker? Many of the videos available via computer are not available on the PAID version of Hulu Plus. So don’t waste time or money on it. Unless you are giving the FULL version of Hulu to GoogleTV then don’t bother.
    Some day, maybe companies will wise up and realize that there is NO difference between computer and TV — they both are merely display screens.

    • I noticed the exact same thing, I sent an email to their legal department complaining. Having been a Plus subscriber since the second month of its beta release to present date, I’m growing impatient on giving them the benefit of the doubt. And the reality is Timothy is 100% correct, there is literally no real added value to HuluPlus at this time. Reading the e-mail reply from hulu in this thread only irritates me further. You mean to tell me the intent of HuluPlus was solely to bring offerings of the same programming to other devices and you HAVEN’T SUCCESSFULLY DELIVERED ON EVEN ONE DEVICE!!! Oh don’t misunderstand me, they “CLAIM” they have it available but I challenge you to find enough subscribers to count for even 2% of us that are satisfied with the streaming on devices other than a PC. It doesn’t work on PS3 (fail), it doesn’t work on Sony BD Players (fail), it doesn’t work on Samsung Internet Ready TV’s (fail), it is sketchy at best on Roku (fail).. They claim to offer the service on each of the above platforms however they continue to fail to deliver. So yeah my question for legal was, exactly what part of what you tell me I’m getting in exchange for this money am I actually getting? 1 week later still no reply.

      Then I find out they are owned by NBC Universal, NewsCorp, and Disney! So what’s their excuse for lack of R&D, inability to deliver on their promises, and failure to deliver their own content on all devices that they allegedly have agreements with to stream content? My guess… The heads running Hulu are ignorant jackals who lack the brain capacity to take advantage of the huge opportunity that has been presented to them and their respective companies. Hulu to the entertainment industry was like being the first vendor to a party they were late for! In other words Like the first ice-cream truck showing up at the end of August – the demand was there long before he arrived, but he was still lucky enough to be the first one there that people knew about.

      We are incredibly bummed that they have failed for so long and so ready to tell satellite providers they could stick it where the sun don’t shine… Looks like we’ll have to wait for now.

    • Deb

      While i agree with you, I also agree with the comments (on the positive side) above. I too noticed that quite a few of my FAV hulu shows aren’t yet authorized for Hulu Plus (on my Roku). However, enough of them are there that makes the service worth the price for me. I also noticed that Hulu Plus has commercials, where initially it was not so intended. However, they did lower the initial price from $9.99 to $7.99, and for me that makes up for it. I really do not mind the 1 minute commercials 4x per show.

      All in all, I’m very happy with Hulu Plus and Roku, and I enjoyed the post above and Hulu’s response makes perfect sense.

      Thanks to Russell for posting.

  • Lee Gillie

    It is all very laughable. This is very simply like carrying a laptop into the living room. And possibly running a video out cable to the TV set. Come on! I believe money grubbers and lawyers are too intent in trying to call it something new, and to even suggest that it requires some kind of new right. When you look at how it’s used, it is the same.

    Is the Earth still flat??

  • Just like the Samsung Froyo debacle. This is not a phone. It’s a general purpose computer with a phone feature. We expect software upgrades for our computers, and in some cases we might need to pay fot them, but to withhold them is wrong, and is going to really anger people.

  • hazydave

    This sounds like Hollywood, Inc. doing a grab for more money. Since, really, when does a thing stop being a personal computer and/or PC?

    When you move incrementally, a thing can change from one thing to another, but never happens all at once. I’m running a PC here that started as a 16MHz 80386 PC back in 1993. There is not one component left from that original, but it never all at once stopped being one PC and started being another — I replaced main boards, hard drives, optical drives, power supplies, cases, etc. But one at a time.

    So if it’s on x86, in you computer room, and it’s running Windows, most people will agree: it’s a PC. If I boot Linux on the same machine, it’s still pretty much a PC… Hulu does run on Linux, they definitely believe this. If I hook in the 32″ HDTV in my office, still pretty much a PC. Bring it upstairs and put it on the 71″ DLP… still a PC. If run the Android middleware on top of Linux, does it now cease to be a PC?

    Now, let’s change the experiment. Move Linux from a big PC to a mini-ITX PC, maybe running a VIA processor. Still in my computer room, still doing PC things on Linux. Is that still a PC? Hulu says so… even once it’s up running on my 71″ HDTV. What if I swap out that mini-ITX VIA board for a mini-ITX ARM Cortex A9 board (such as the KMC KZM-CA9-01). Still in my computer room, doing exactly the same things the VIA board did, only maybe a little faster ūüôā Has this crossed the line… no longer a PC, despite the fact that you’d need an expert to tell the difference between that and the former configuration? Or does it get to be a PC until I run Android or RokuOS middleware over top of Linux? What about MeeGo… does that similarly void its PC-ness.

    In short, the Hollywood types are making a money grab here. If I were the Hulu folks, I’d have technical and legal people very carefully study the complete definition of “PC” supplied to them in their contracts, so they could more accurately inform their users about when their device is a PC, and when it may no longer be one.

  • Adam Charlton

    You guys forget, Hulu’s investors include ABC, NBC and Fox. They have plenty of clout when it comes to these kind of contracts. It’s disingenuous to state that it’s “out of their control”. Each one of the networks have ties with TV stations, cable companies and content providers. It’s one big incestuous family really. Yes, they would make a bit more money from the subscriptions, but the major investors in Hulu are not convinced that it would not create a giant steam roller effect as more and more people ditch cable and stop watching local TV.

    As far as Hulu is concerned, they do have a foot on both sides of the fence, but things strongly lean towards the influence of the entertainment industry as apposed to consumers.

  • Jason

    Hulu is owned jointly by NBC, Fox, and ABC/Disney/ESPN. So I’m not sure I’m understanding the issue here. They say they are waiting for these companies to make a new deal to allow streaming on Google TV but they own these companies. You would think they would want their Ad Supported version and Plus Versions both allowed on these devices. I’m not going to pay for Hulu Plus for any device when I already pay for Netflix. One day Netflix will offer shows almost as fast as Hulu anyways and they already work on most devices and are working on Apps for the devices that are not supported.

  • Jenine74

    funny my sister has a samsung google tv and she gets hulu. What’s the difference?

    • SadPanda

      There is no Samsung Google TV — what your sister has is a Samsung Internet TV, which is different from Google TV. And Hulu+ is available on Samsung Internet TVs.

  • Alan

    This is the same response they’ve given for some time. ¬†It’s absolutely canned and I’ve gotten a couple of them. ¬†Hulu does not appear to be increasing their TV attached device content licenses for quality content at all. ¬†Go ahead Hulu, prove me wrong and show me any lists of the top 20 rated shows of the major networks over the time since the launch of HuluPlus and show how in *any* measure you are “working” on it.

    I could be wrong but Hulu appears to be *losing* relationships on the top market and growing only on the bottom. ¬†I’d love to see Hulu compete against the cable guys but they are sure starting to sound like a dot.bomb with vague CEO vision and fleeing investors.

  • Anonymous

    “The more I read it, however, I felt that this actually came from a person, which made me a lot happier.” ¬†Russell Holly has failed the Turing test, unless “committee of lawyers” counts as a “person”.

  • tfWell I’m on my Google TV right now, and just cancelled my Hulu+ account. ¬†To me this is just a bunch of Bull. ¬†Hulu already has commercials, just like Live TV, and if the problem is that they are not making enough money, simply double the number of ads. It will STILL be A LOT less ads than live TV, and they won’t have to share it with the local networks. ¬†To sit there being owned by Disney (ABC), NBC, CBS and other content providers and claim that you can’t get the rights to YOUR OWNERS SHOWS is absolute BS! ¬†To top it off, the fact that EVERY tv now comes with a VGA input, really what difference does it make when I use my Revue’s Keyboard or my Dell’s Keyboard? ¬†Yet I was PAYING for Hulu Plus and I can’t get Hulu on my Revue? ¬†A simple switch to the VGA Port, and I’m on my Dell watching Hulu FREE??? WTF? ¬†OK, if that’s how you want to play it Hulu, you don’t get my cash every month anymore, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. ¬†The funny thing is that when they finally work this all out, the free version will probably be available on GTV, so there will be no reason for me to re-up my subcription for Hulu Plus. ¬†The only thing I ever used to use it on was my PS3, but ever since I hooked up the Dell to my TV, I rarely ever use it for Hulu anymore, since there are more shows available on the PC. ¬†Oh Well, sucks for you Hulu.