Boxee, the media center with a social twist, will be launching its public beta on December 7 — which is great news for those of us who have been using the service since the very early alpha days on our Apple TVs or Macs.
Even before Boxee enters its official beta, the service will continue to expand its content-partner offerings. In October, Anime portal Crunchyroll joined Boxee, and today another commercial partner joins the mix: an entertainment source called Crackle.
Crackle is a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment and has a great backlog of movies, TV shows and original content. The partnership between the two content sources will garner Boxee 49 different TV show miniepisodes and 37 original Web shows.
The miniepisodes are 5-minute condensed episodes of shows like Voltron, Who’s the Boss?, Rescue Me, Diff’rent Strokes and one of my personal favorites, Married With Children. Sony offers some of these same condensed episodes to services like Hulu and On-Demand cable offerings.
Crackle also has a ton of really funny, super-high quality original Web shows. I suggest the animated series A Priest, Rabbi and Minister walk into a Bar, which is laugh-out-loud funny (and very, very wrong).
Disruptive Technology For the Living Room
Boxee is available for Mac, Windows and Ubuntu Linux systems, as well as on Apple TV, and pretty soon the service will be getting its own dedicated hardware device — mock-ups of which will be on display at the big Boxee unveiling on December 7.
Because Boxee is disruptive technology, we seen a range of reactions from content partners over the last 14 months or so: They either embrace the service or run from it. Some partners have recognized Boxee’s potential, others (like Hulu) have fought to try to pull content from the service. The fact that Crackle, which is backed by a very large media content group, is coming to Boxee speaks volumes.
It’s one thing for media companies to make deals with portals under the assumption that people will be watching from their computer, but Boxee is designed to be used from the living room (although you can use it from a computer or laptop without a problem). In partnering with Boxee, Crackle is making a bold (and shrewd move). We hope to see more companies and content providers take notice of these events when contemplating their own digital strategies.