Last week when the NBCU/Comcast duo testified in Washington on their proposed merger, one of the questions that came up was about Hulu blocking access of its content to Boxee. Shortly after the hearing ended, Boxee’s CEO posted his response, basically claiming that Boxee is just displaying the video as it would be displayed on Hulu, with streaming ads and all. That however, isn’t actually accurate. I left a long-winded response on Avner’s post, explaining why so.

Today the Crunchgear blog played devil’s advocate, trying to see things from Hulu’s persepctive, and basically came up with the same outcome as me. Here’s my argument for Hulu blocking Boxee’s access in simple terms:

  • Boxee is intended to replace tv viewing, whereas Hulu is intended to compliment it
  • Fragmenting Hulu’s distribution weakens their competitive position (at least for now)
  • On Boxee, Hulu loses the ability to advertise around the content (note the occasional small banner on Hulu above the video)
  • Hulu’s partners lose attribution (eg. “SNL, Saturday’s at 11:30pm, Presented by NBC”)
  • Hulu loses cross-promotion opportunities after an episode ends

I’m a huge Boxee fan and would love to see both companies work this out. The only solution I see is Hulu developing a paid app in Boxee and charging for their content. I would pay a few bucks a month (maybe even more if they increased the content available and included HD streams) — and they can even keep the ads in it…