While apologizing to Boxee users, Hulu chief executive Jason Kilar said the company had no choice but to turn off the video spigot later this week.
"Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes," Kilar said in the company's blog Wednesday. "While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence -- bumps and all -- we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners."
Kilar did not name the studios involved. Hulu has never had a formal content deal with Boxee, according to the CEO.
"The maddening part of writing this blog entry is that we realized that there is no immediate win here for users," Kilar said.
Indeed, on the Boxee blog, the company said Hulu was the most requested site by Boxee users. Last week alone, Boxee generated more than 100,000 streams for Hulu, according to Boxee.
Nevertheless, the company was notified two weeks ago by Hulu that content providers had requested that their content be removed from Boxee. "We tried (many times) to plead the case for keeping Hulu on Boxee, but on Friday of this week, in good faith, we will be removing it," the company said.
The Boxee application, which is downloaded from the company's site, provides access to online movies, TV shows, music, and photos through a PC or a broadband-connected digital TV. Besides Hulu, the software streams content from Netflix, ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, Last.fm, and Flickr.
On Thursday, CNET News reported that Hulu has also removed its content from CBS-owned TV.com, saying it was exercising its "contractual rights." CNET is published by CBS Interactive.
The Hulu moves reflect a retreat by Hollywood on distribution of video, even when it's being offered at no charge. The move occurs at the same time file-sharing site Pirate Bay is on trial in Sweden for allegedly infringing on film and music copyrights.
The site is accused of making copyrighted materials available to Internet users for free through BitTorrent. BMG, EMI, Sony BMG, Universal, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. are among those accusing the Sweden-based site and its operators of copyright infringement. They're seeking more than $12 million in revenue losses.
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