Here’s something that should start to scare the pants off cable executives: Hulu, the surging Web video site owned by NBC, Fox, and Disney, is making it easier to displace cable from your living room via its new Hulu Desktop app.
Here’s my TV this morning, with an episode of 30 Rock up there. It looks great, Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan are just as funny as they are on cable, and hey — it’s free! Not $80/month like my digital cable bill used to be.
Sure, I’ve been able to do this since Hulu launched, just by hooking up my MacBook to my TV and moving a Firefox window to the second screen. And I used to be able to do this with Boxee, a free media-centre app that used to be able to access Hulu streams. (Until Hulu put an end to it, probably because Boxee works on an Apple TV set-top box. Which people are already trying to get Hulu Desktop to do.)
But now I’m sitting on my couch, zooming around with my Apple remote control, picking TV shows on a user interface that’s way better than anything I’ve ever seen from a cable company. No set-top box in sight.
Reality check: It’s going to be a long time before Hulu and other Web video products can replace cable TV for most people. I am a nerd, and I don’t watch much TV, so I don’t count. American couch potatoes who watch hours of cable TV a day and can’t figure out how to program a VCR are not necessarily going to be able to figure out how to plug in their laptops to use Hulu Desktop like this. And if cable companies get their act together, turn the cable box into the go-to Web video device, and fix their awful user interfaces, they can hold off disruption for a lot longer.
But it’s getting easier every day to cut the cable TV cord and just pay for broadband. And now Hulu is helping.
See Also: Why Comcast Has To Worry About Hulu