Google Chromecast this week debuted an app for Hulu Plus, the premium, subscription-level service, but the free stuff offered by Hulu has already been a video streaming hit on the hot-selling streaming dongle.
According to data released this week by Parks Associates, 34% of Chromecast owners use it to stream free content from the Hulu Web site to the TV set daily.
That still doesn’t outpace Netflix, which was one of a small batch of OTT video companies that has offered an app optimized for the device since Chromecast launched. About 43% of Chromecast owners use the device to fling Netflix content to the TV, Parks Associates said.
But the firm said Chromecast’s “screen-shifting” ability, even before apps are developed, is a source of concern for the content folks. Hulu Plus, for example, comes with rights for delivery to the TV set, while the free stuff is supposed to be constrained to PCs and laptops.
“Chromecast is giving people in Hollywood headaches right now,” John Barrett, director of consumer analytics for Parks Associates, said in a statement. “All the wrangling over licensing restrictions doesn’t mean much if consumers can simply circumvent them.”
Will Richmond of VideoNuze and nScreenMedia's Colin Dixon explore this a bit more in this podcast, noting that the "tab casting" feature on the Chromecast is undermining one of Hulu Plus' value propositions.
But Chromecast is not really the only source of concern, if it’s indeed creating such headaches. Connecting a PC to a TV via an HDMI cord accomplishes almost the same thing if the goal is to stream video to a Web browser and watch it on the big screen.
And, as we’ve mentioned, MediaMall Technologies is working on PlayCast, a version of its PlayOn PC-to-TV media server software that, it claims, will enable the Chromecast to work with dozens of streaming video services, including HBO Go and Aereo.
So, there's plenty of headache-inducers out there for the content owners to go around. But Chromecast is the one generating the most buzz these days.