QOTD: Studios Versus Citizens?

Today’s question of the day comes to us by way of David B., PA:

Any thoughts on how Boxee Box may be affected by the recent news that the major networks were blocking Google TV?

I’ve got a Logitech Revue Google TV in my possession, so I’ve seen the fallout firsthand (above). My overall thoughts on the GTV product and experience are still coalescing, but this is an interesting question I wanted to address now. While the studio blockade is a real pisser, I’m certainly not surprised. For folks who are, I imagine the Google TV value proposition has been severely reduced — despite the fact that television-based web browsing is merely a stop-gap until the studios and networks decide how to best present monetize their content. And, of course, that’s the bottom line. At the end of the day, it’s their property and, until told otherwise, they’ll provide it (or not) as they see fit. So prepare yourself for all sorts of browser- and transport-based discrimination. The Boxee Box will not be immune and, in fact, Boxee was one of the first services schooled by the system when network pawn Hulu shut them down. By the same token, Boxee also has the most experience in overcoming these limitations via technological means… should they choose to continue down that path. All will be revealed November 10th?

7 thoughts on “QOTD: Studios Versus Citizens?”

  1. So I have seen conflicting reports about whether changing the browser user agent on Google TV gets around this. Some said it does but later others said it didn’t. I don’t know if they are doing some other sort of “signature” check on the browser (or OS, for that matter).

  2. Originally, flipping the Google TV Chrome user agent mode bit to the pre-defined ‘generic’ setting enabled Hulu access but then that was blocked too. I haven’t tried manually duplicating a desktop browser user agent string to see what happens. Also, there may be other checks these guys can do to identify a Google TV, such as OS like you suggest. And I doubt Google will empower us the way Boxee might. Although that could be in jeopardy if they hope to work their own (app) deals and their relationship with D-Link could also come into play.

  3. Every incident of blocking that gets spotlighted on mainstream media helps accelerate the system eating itself and lead to the extinction of old dinosaur TV.

    We need more blocking, and hopefully Boxee gets blocked too.

    I’d love to see a really good “double whammy” – some high powered lawyer, who is a rabid NFL fan *AND* has a Google TV box, can’t watch his favorite team.

    …one can only dream.



  4. As far as Boxee, you can always check whether Hulu is working on Boxee by following @ishuluonboxee on twitter. Its been working since May 28th, 2009 as I write this. Seems like that last move by Boxee was a keeper.

    To me the obvious question for Boxee is whether to embrace say Hulu Plus or continue their ‘pirate’ ways. If they do the former I don’t think they can continue to allow access to the regular Hulu on the TV as Hulu won’t grant them access to Hulu Plus. If they do the latter, then they have to be prepared to continue to wage war with Hulu et al.

    I assume most of their current customers would be upset if they do the Hulu Plus deal. Which one gets them more sales for the Boxee Box I have no idea…

  5. Given the market, I’d say they should keep and exploit their geek cred by bypassing/ignoring the system. Of course, they’ll burn bridges by doing so and could make themselves targets and unpleasant threats or legal action. And, again, I wonder how their hardware partner(s) play into the equation. If Boxee goes legit, they’re just one box among many second and third input app providers (who happen to cost about twice as much as Apple TV, WDTV, and Roku).

  6. before the internet, didn’t the tv companies get their money from the ad revenue that was set based on the ratings during Sweeps weeks? so if the Big 3 back then got by with just ads then, why now that they have additional revenue streams from DVD sales, itunes/Amazon rentals/buys etc can’t they also provide shows on sites like Hulu with limited commercial interruption available to all? sure the ad prices for Hulu are probably less than broadcast, but still it is still bringing in some money. what is the difference between watching a show via Hulu on my laptop, HTPC hooked to my TV or Googletv or Boxee? why are two of those methods such a threat and blocked while two others are not?

    The networks need to adapt to new technology or they risk driving more people to discover what these kids are talking about with bit torrent. Sure broadcast ad dollars bring in the big bucks compared to Hulu ad views but that is only because the networks still allow Nielsen’s archaic way of doing business with a select few boxes scattered around the country drive ratings. A hulu account or website profile would give the network so much more information on who is viewing their product, age group, location, when they watched it etc.

  7. @mike i

    I know you’re just saying what everybody else says, but I’d say the difference is obvious. If the delivery method might result in cord cutting then they block it. If it doesn’t, then they don’t. So if they view it as supplementary, its allowed. Yes I know there are some kids who can get by just watching shows on their laptops, but most people can’t/won’t. At least for now. So they let it go.

    And don’t act like its a given either. Networks have been pulling shows off the air, reducing the number of shows and episodes online, etc. Not the other way around. They’re still experimenting. But really you can only use the free Hulu (or ABC.com) to supplement when you miss an occasional show.

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