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Kylo TV-friendly browser adds Hulu workaround (update: gets blocked again)

Kylo, the simplified browser designed for viewers who have computers connected to an HDTV's large screen, received an update Wednesday that restores the ability to watch TV shows at Hulu.

kylo_hulu_working.png

Back in March, the debut of Kylo--developed by Rockville-based Hillcrest Labs--was spoiled when Hulu almost immediately began blocking users of this free download for Windows and Mac.

Why bother? Hulu's corporate owners--including NBC Universal, News Corporation and The Walt Disney Company--don't want to make it too easy for users to watch the site on anything but a computer's monitor. They'd apparently rather add technological restrictions to protect an existing business model--something users of the Boxee media-browsing software know too well by now--than accept new customers regardless of their origin.

Hillcrest's remedy was simple enough: Having Kylo label itself as a different browser. This option exists under a new "Compatibility" category in its Settings menu; navigate to that, type in "hulu.com" and click the "Add custom site behavior" button to have Kylo tell Hulu that it's really Mozilla Firefox 3.6. As the screenshot above shows, that allowed me me to watch a Simpsons episode--including the ads that Hulu inserts in the video and displays above it.

(This browser self-identification is called the "user agent" string and is routinely provided to sites, as you can see at whatsmyuseragent.com. Spoofing the user agent may not be truthful behavior, but it's a justifiable response to sites that unfairly reject compatible browsers.)

A Hillcrest blog post outlines other new features, such as integration with Microsoft's Media Center software. If you already have Kylo installed, it should offer to download the new version automatically.

Knowing Hulu's corporate overlords, I expect the site to look for some new countermeasure against Hillcrest's latest tweak--and then, later on, to try to block users of Google's upcoming Google TV software.

But when does Hulu get tired of playing this silly game? How do Hulu's own developers feel about working to ensure that their site stays broken for the "wrong" users? Do they not have one of the most degrading coding jobs in America? And to what end--so short-sighted suits can find new ways to annoy their customers?

5/28, 5:06 p.m.: I got an e-mail a few minutes ago from Kylo spokesman Jeremy Pemble, saying that Hulu videos stop playing after 30 seconds in that browser, with the same "Unfortunately, this video is not available on your platform" nonsense as before. I confirmed this on the copy of the program I installed yesterday. It seems Hulu is determined to continue down its contemptible course.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 27, 2010; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  TV , Video  
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Comments

Hulu doesn't care about its customers.

I joined Netflix because I wanted to see a particular movie during the free period and stayed because I can watch whatever I want either on DVD or online.

I am a fan of Adam-12. Only the first 4 years are available on Hulu, but all 7 on Netflix on line. The array of movies is much broader too.

I'd have not bothered to look at anything else if Hulu was trying. But they are so full of themselves proving they are not being ripped off that they drive customers away.

Posted by: eteonline | June 1, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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