Is Hulu on Google TV blocked as a sales tactic?

Hulu has long been one of the many black eyes plaguing the Google TV platform. Shortly after Google TV launched to market, the big TV content providers started blocking all Google TV devices from being able to access online television content from official network websites. Shortly thereafter, Hulu was blocked as well.

This all happened about 9 months ago, when Google TV debuted. This week I jumped on over to Hulu.com from my Google TV browser to see if anything had changed. Sadly, it has not. Google TV users still get the below message when they attempt to access Hulu.

This is the same message that was displayed when Hulu was initially blocked on Google TV. But wait, shouldn’t we all rest assured that Hulu is “working hard to bring our Hulu Plus subscription service to Google TV!”? Uh huh, apparently not. They aren’t working very hard, since it has been 9 months and it still isn’t available.

To me, this message translates as “Screw you Google and screw you Google TV users, signed, Hulu”.

So what is the hold up? Why the heck can’t we watch Hulu shows on Google TV? Danny Sulivan over at SearchEngineLand wrote a good piece on the subject and basically it comes down to business politics and posturing. There is absolutely no technical reason why Hulu doesn’t run on Google TV, it’s just the will of the television networks. The TV networks are in the advertisement business and so is Google, which makes the networks fear the big online behemoth.

I was initially flummoxed by the networks’ decision to block Hulu from Google TV, but especially since Hulu Plus never made an appearance. After all, one of the primary “features” of a Hulu Plus subsciption is to allow access on a wide range of TV devices.

But now things are a bit different. Hulu is up for sale. Rumors are running rampant that Yahoo, Amazon, Google, Dish Network and others are bidding on a Hulu buy out.

With the impending sale now out in the open, I’ve now got to wonder, has Hulu blocked Google TV and refused to provide a Google TV Hulu Plus app all this time simply as a sales tactic? Google is rumored to be one of the top bidders in the sale, so denying their TV product access to Hulu’s vast content library may have been a strategy all along to get the big G interested in a purchase.

No matter what the backroom reasoning is, one thing is for certain, Hulu has pissed off both its Hulu Plus subscribers and other Google TV customers with this anti-customer, content-blocking behavior. We’ll see if that changes once the ownership of the site changes hands, if a sales deal is actually ever agreed upon.

About Wes Novack

Wesley Novack is a Technologist working in the software industry, with extensive experience building and managing highly available applications, services, and systems in the public cloud. He has a breadth of experience in online publishing, the consumer electronics industry, and building internet communities. Wes enjoys hanging with his family, skateboarding, hiking, the vegan lifestyle, and a good cup of tea. You can find him on Twitter @WesleyTech.

View all posts by Wes Novack →

3 Comments on “Is Hulu on Google TV blocked as a sales tactic?”

  1. This Google TV user finds it absurd and insulting when sites like Hulu prevent me from watching their content on my preferred device. I look forward to the upcoming Google TV update with access to Android apps, as I’m sure it won’t take long for someone to release an alternate Web browser that spoofs another client for the purpose of Hulu and their ilk. For now I just watch something else…there’s plenty of crappy video out there for us.

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