Hulu’s Waning Appeal

Aug 18, 2011 by

The appeal of the Hulu streaming video service eroded a bit more this week as Fox—one of Hulu’s original founding partners—implemented a new content windowing constraint for new episodes of TV shows. Viewers relying on Hulu’s free, ad-supported site to watch missed shows will have to wait eight days from the original air date before they can stream new episodes. An eight day window ensures that shows will always be two weeks behind—viewers will never be able to “catch up” to the upcoming live episodes.

There is good news, though. Subscribers to Hulu’s paid, ad-supported premium site, Hulu Plus, will continue to have access to new episodes on the next day. Well…except if you’re using one of the many TVs and set-top boxes that supports Hulu Plus, since many of Hulu’s licensing agreements prohibit them from offering new episodes on your TV, even though they’re available for viewing on the Web.

But there’s more good news: Subscribers to partnering paid television providers (no…the free over-the-air broadcast doesn’t count) can also continue to view new episodes on the next day. Well…except that DISH Network is the only partnering provider so far.

OK, maybe…maybe the good news was a bit premature. Maybe the harsh reality is that between content windows, convoluted licensing rights, limited back episodes, and actively thwarting consumers attempts to enjoy Hulu’s free, ad-supported service on 10-foot devices like Boxee and Google TV, the networks that founded Hulu have been strategically chipping away at Hulu because they just simply don’t want it to work. Eh…that’s just me being negative.

Did I mention that ABC might also soon be imposing an eight-day window, too?