Not a day after the launch of Kylo, a new platform for Web video, Hulu is already inaccessible through the software.
When I checked my inbox this morning, there were two press releases from Hillcrest Labs, maker of the free Kylo software. The first was a general announcement for Kylo, and the second was a statement of bewilderment from chief executive Dan Simpkins, who had no idea why Hulu — a Web site that hosts free shows from NBC, FOX, ABC and others — wouldn’t work.
“Prior to our formal launch, Hulu videos would play within the Kylo browser,” Simpkins said. “Like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari, the Kylo browser is simply a Web browser, it’s our sincere hope that Hulu isn’t restricting access.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Hulu was shutting out the new software. Like Boxee, another free software program for viewing Web video, Kylo is designed to be viewed on a television screen. The idea is that you buy a home theater PC, plus an air mouse (Hillcrest Labs sells one, the $99 Loop Pointer) for watching Web video from your couch.
Unfortunately, Hulu’s content providers aren’t keen on the idea, because TV viewing of Web content could pull people away from broadcast and cable, which are far more lucrative for advertising and licensing fees. That’s why Hulu is inaccessible through Boxee, and presumably through Kylo. It also could explain why the Web site stopped working on the Playstation 3’s Web browser last year. According to NewTeeVee, Hulu hasn’t yet responded to the Kylo situation. However, NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker doesn’t think highly of Boxee, accusing the software of “illegally taking” content, which isn’t really true.
As more solutions emerge for watching Web video on TV, it’s going to be harder for Hulu to keep up these blocking tactics. Eventually the television networks who are calling the shots will either have to give in and make a better effort to monetize the site, or pull their support for Hulu, as Comedy Central recently did. I hope they choose the former.