Beginning Aug. 15th, just before the fall 2011 television season premieres in Sept., Fox will require you to authenticate that you are paying for cable to watch their shows on Hulu or the network’s website. Currently they have only signed on with Dish Network, but apparently they are in negotiations with other multi-channel cable and satellite providers to afford their customers the same access. After the eight day window anyone will be able to watch as they currently do, but if you aren’t paying for Fox, you’re going to have to wait for your latest episode of Family Guy.
This is a similar method to what HBO is using for its HBO Go application, however there is a rather significant difference in that Fox is a commercially supported, over-the-air broadcast network as opposed to a premium cable channel. Even after the switch to HD wavelengths wherein consumers had to buy adapters to pick up the signals, you could still watch any of the major American networks without paying a monthly fee. While the content will eventually become free under this new idea, doesn’t the mere idea you have to prove you pay for it to watch it seem to run contrary to the entire business model of the commercially supported network? The first eight days after a show airs are the most prime days someone is going to watch something (for instance, my TiVo messed up Monday night and I missed Master Chef, I need to see that before I watch the next one), so by cutting out any potential viewers, no matter what a small percentage they are of the overall viewing audience, make the advertisers receive less impressions? These shows run with commercials online as well, so it does seem rather backwards you want to keep some people from seeing them.
In a statement on the announcement, Michael Hopkins, President, Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Fox Networks, said, “We are continually looking at opportunities to provide our pay television distributors with content and products that enhance the value of pay television to subscribers.” He went on to add, “Our new authentication service will continue to provide next-day access to FOX broadcast shows for our viewers who subscribe to participating pay television providers.” Again I have to point out that Fox is not a pay channel, it isn’t even basic cable let alone the premium channel that HBO is. Apparently someone has forgotten to send Fox executives this memo.
What do you think of Fox’s new authentication policy to watch their shows online for eight days?