An Open letter to Hulu and the Networks

(Or, “The networks are forcing me to steal their content.”)

I’ve railed about this before, but wanted to bring it back to the top. It’s simple, I have money, and I want to spend it. BUT I want to spend it on what I want, not a bundle of shit with a few nuggets of goodness in it. That means I don’t want ESPN, I don’t want MTV or Nicktoons and I certainly don’t want Lifetime, but I do want HBO, USA, the main networks, FX, etc. I’d pay per network or per show. But I’m not against paying people who make content for that content. I’m also not against suffering through ads in exchange for it (within reason)

I’ve been paying for Hulu+ since it went live. Many networks were onboard and I want to pay them for their content….  Except… The only way Hulu is usable is if you use the desktop app, because of licensing bullshit, the mobile apps can’t show certain shows, some are web only, etc. The desktop client skirted that shit and we could watch whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, on our TV via a Macbook running the desktop app.

Too bad Hulu’s desktop app is a red-headed step child and hasn’t been updated in years. Not only is it not updated, but now it’s so old that if you update your Flash player, the app breaks. So you have to choose, new flash or hulu.

Ok fine, the PS3 has a hulu client and is HD with surround vs. our Macbook that is simply stereo. Except… The PS3 client is hamstrung with all those stupid licensing rules. Some ABC shows are ‘web only’ All USA and Sci Fi shows are too. So now I’m paying for shows I basically can’t watch. Why can I watch Castle on the  PS3, but not (it’s for my wife) The Bachelor?

So what’s the solution? Torrents. I was already torrenting CBS programming because they won’t be a part of Hulu and have even said they believe “cord cutting” is a fad that will pass and are willing to wait it out rather than offer streaming options.

The downside of torrenting TV programming is that the network doesn’t know I’m watching. The advertising don’t get my attention, and the net effect can be canceled shows, etc. It’s a trade off, be treated like shit, or risk not being counted as a viewer. I choose to not be treated like I don’t matter.

All that said, Dear CBS, ABC, Fox, HBO and the rest. Figure it out, it’s 2012. We don’t fax things anymore, we don’t gather round to watch TV when it airs, and we don’t want to pay for things we don’t want. Adjusting is up to you, not us the consumers. We’ve moved into the 21st century, and we’re waiting for you to join us.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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