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Hulu launches TV-like app, not for TV

Posted at 29 May 2009 00:36 CEST by Jared Newman

A new application from Hulu makes watching TV on the computer easier, but still resists bringing the content to an actual television.

Hulu Desktop is described as "Lean-back viewing for your PC." That’s because it includes support for remote controls and a user interface with big navigation menus. The software can also be personalized to the viewer’s tastes.

If those tastes involve watching through a set-top box, however, too bad. NewTeeVee notes that Hulu Desktop’s terms of use explicitly forbid installing the software on anything but a personal computer. Specifically, "digital media receiver devices (such as Apple TV), mobile devices (such as a cell phone device, mobile handheld device or a PDA), network devices or CE devices (collectively ‘Prohibited Devices’)" are out of the question.

Hulu has expressed in the past that content providers, and not the Web site itself, are mandating the strict control over usage. Their fear is that people won’t subscribe to cable TV if they realize the content can be watched over the Internet for free, thus costing networks lots of money in licensing fees.

This seems kind of silly when Alec Baldwin goes on TV to shill all the free content that’s available on Hulu. The more attractive computers become for watching videos, the closer we get to computers replacing televisions in the living room. At a certain point, the line in the sand that Hulu is drawing will become irrelevant.

If customers are sticking with cable, it’s because of the content itself and the reliability that cable affords. People who really want to save money will drop cable anyway and find other ways to work around Hulu’s roadblocks.

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