Hulu on Monday shifted all of its free streaming services off of its website and over to Yahoo View, a move that cuts its ties to the idea of ad-supported internet television -- and keeps new investor Time Warner happy. The move led one prominent publication to declare the death of “free TV on the internet.”
Meantime, linear streaming service FilmOn X continues to make a case in court that it is essentially a cable system -- albeit over the open internet -- and should be allowed to negotiate for retransmission rights of broadcasters’ content.
FilmOn X was in court Thursday, squaring off against several broadcasters again in an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The web content provider argued that it is entitled to a compulsory license under Section 111 -- which would give it the ability to retransmit broadcast networks’ content -- because it meets the requirement for a physical facility, and because its services fall under the spirit of the 1976 Copyright Act.
“FilmOn X showed that the Congress was acting in 1976 to provide room for the disruptive technology of that time: what we now call traditional cable. The spirit of the law was to promote innovation and competition in order to continue to increase the public’s right to access broadcast television,” the provider said in a data sheet detailing the day’s arguments.
So, is ad-supported content from broadcasters really dead? FilmOn CEO Alki David begged to differ. While the service doesn’t stream content from the big three U.S. broadcast networks, FilmOn.com maintains several hundred live and on-demand video channels from other traditional broadcasters and online networks.
David said that Hulu’s ad-supported version was destined to fall by the wayside. “Hulu's free service was ground breaking -- but it was always limited by the whims of the networks and never became a portal to the whole world the way FilmOn has,” he told FierceOnlineVideo.
How long Hulu’s free content remains on Yahoo View remains to be seen. Most of Yahoo’s assets were purchased in July by Verizon, and it isn’t clear what the carrier will do with the search engine giant’s various properties. Yahoo may operate as it always has, but it’s more likely that its ad platform will be integrated with AOL’s advertising services and its other assets distributed in different ways. That could mean, ultimately, the shutdown of Yahoo View.
- see this Recode article
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