Hulu Speaks On PS3 Blocking: Blame The Content Providers

Hulu Speaks On PS3 Blocking: Blame The Content Providers

A few weeks ago, Hulu silently blocked access through the PS3’s web browser. G4 did some digging, and found an entirely predictable culprit: Reluctant content providers!

The semi-apology came in the form of an email, in which a Hulu rep told G4 that the move was a compromise:

Everything we do is with an eye toward achieving our long-term goal of maximising the content you can access as conveniently as possible in a way that ‘works’ for the content owner. In the short-term that may require us to make some tough decisions…

Hulu won’t go so far as to directly blame specific companies, but it sounds like one—or a few—of their many partners signaled that PS3 streaming was a threat to their relationship, somehow. But yeah, how? Or, I guess, why?

Distribution availability across platforms — theatres vs. TV vs. recorded media like DVDs vs. online streaming vs. mobile phones — was always implicitly or explicitly controlled in that world… the windowing strategy is still dominant in the business. Billions of dollars flow in across these different windows, and entire companies are organised around them.

This is actually pretty clear cut. Content providers are uncomfortable with the concept of video streaming on the PS3, because the console is typically connected to televisions. This content delivery grey area is enough to somehow screw with, or simply muddy, their licensing arrangements or corporate structure, so they’re exercising caution.

As frustrating as that is, it’s also a bit reassuring; far from a sign of a concert rollback of digital streaming rights, this is just a minor hiccup during a long, still-advancing transition. As Señor Hulu said, upstarts like Hulu need to be sensitive to media companies’ old-fashioned sensibilities in order to change them. [G4]