Hulu Now Easier To Watch In Bed, On Couch [Silicon Alley Insider]
Is Hulu looking to become a set-top experience? It's a good question in the wake of the popular long-form online video portal's announcement yesterday of Hulu Desktop, a desktop PC and Mac application that provides a set-top like menu environment for streaming Hulu's television shows and movies from a computer desktop. In fact, Hulu Desktop bears a striking resemblance to the open-source Boxee software, which has had a long running dispute with Hulu over the ability of Boxee to stream Hulu content.
Though Hulu isn't promoting the software as an interface for connecting one's computer to a television to stream their content directly to the television screen, it appears they might as well be doing just that. Hulu is promoting the ability of Hulu Desktop to be able to respond to commands from an Apple Remote or Windows Media Center remote control.
Why would one want to use a remote control to control the application on their computer? If they've connected their computer to a television, of course. Due to the sensitive nature of Hulu's ownership relationship with networks, who receive substantial portions of their revenues from cable providers, Hulu is not promoting the use of the application for this purpose. But, it's pretty clear that's the direction they want their tech-savvy users to take it. Hulu maintains the ability to serve up commercials, both streamed and display advertising within the Hulu Desktop application.
It's going to be interesting to see how this move by Hulu plays out with content producers with programming on Hulu and with Boxee. One blogger is already calling Hulu's move to block Boxee anti-competitive. For the record, here's a video describing the Hulu Desktop software.