Hulu Blocks Hillcrest's Browser Work-Around


Hulu continues its game of cat-and-mouse with Web browsers designed to be used on TVs, as the video-entertainment portal has blocked an upgraded version of Hillcrest Labs' Kylo software designed to masquerade as regular PC-based browsers.

On Wednesday, Hillcrest released Kylo beta 0.7, which includes a "compatibility mode" setting that makes the Mozilla Firefox-based browser looks like a Firefox 3.6 or Internet Explorer 8.0 client. The feature was partly designed in response to Hulu's previous move to prevent Kylo from playing videos.

Hillcrest CEO Dan Simpkins issued a statement Friday that his company confirmed that Hulu has again stopped the Kylo Web browser from playing videos on the Web site. He pointed out that Hulu is singling out browsers like Kylo even though consumers can use ordinary PCs connected to a big-screen TV to access the same television and movie content.

"Our hope is that a respectful dialog with Hulu will encourage them to consider changing their policies, especially since consumers can use other Web browsers like Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox to watch Hulu on TV," Simpkins said. "Fortunately, the major TV network shows are available directly from the networks' individual Web sites, and those sites are compatible with Kylo."

Hulu did not respond to a request for comment late Friday. The company is a joint venture of NBC Universal, News Corp., and The Walt Disney Co.

Hulu -- which served more than 1 billion videos in March 2010, according to comScore -- has similarly blocked the Boxee browser software, which also is intended to be used on a TV.

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, in an interview with The New York Times last year, said the reason the site cuts off access to services like Boxee is because cable networks want to "keep their shows from living-room environments that promote themselves as substitutes to their analog cable TV business."

Most of the TV content available on Hulu is from ABC, Fox and NBC, the broadcast networks of its owners.