While this isn’t news to anyone who regularly watches TV online, all new episodes of FOX shows have an 8-day delay on Hulu and Fox.com.
Now I’ve known about this decision since this summer but since the TV season is officially in full swing I’m just now feeling its effects. Yes, I find the delay annoying but I’m also kind of perplexed by their thought process. And apparently I’m not the only one feeling inconvenienced, a quick Google search for the phrase “FOX delays hulu shows for 8 days” comes back with a barrage of results about rises in piracy.
From a business standpoint, I get it. The Fox Entertainment Group owns a part of Hulu.com, so clearly they are hoping to profit from their content by offering exclusive access to their shows. If viewers aren’t going to watch it live, I suppose the next best thing is to charge viewers.
But from a live ratings stand-point, I don’t understand their logic. Unless you’re a Hulu Plus subscriber or utilize ‘alternative’ sites for streaming, you either have to watch episodes out of order to catch up or will always be a week behind. So if the ultimate goal is still to get people to sit down in front of the TV to watch commercials, then why wouldn’t FOX want their viewers to catch up in time to see the next week’s episode live?
While most of the broadcast networks seem to have different online streaming options and time frames for episodes, FOX is the first network to really hold their content back – especially after it was so readily available. On the other hand, NBC and ABC, also Hulu.com partners, make their new content available immediately. New episodes are also on their own sites but I find the clean look of Hulu.com to be more appealing, which is why I do as much of my online viewing on it as possible.
Although CBS shows aren’t on Hulu.com, new episodes are available the very next day on their own website. I don’t watch a whole lot of shows on CBS (especially since I’m not an old person), but I went and checked out their site and everything from NCIS to Two & A Half Men had new episodes ready to be streamed.
On the flip side is The CW. Interestingly, the network most geared towards young people has the least accessible online content. New episodes only appear on cwtv.com about five days after the original air date. At least they provide a small window of opportunity to catch up before the next new episode. Their shows also aren’t available on Comcast On-Demand.
So this all raises some interesting questions. Will other networks jump on Fox’s bandwagon? While great for viewers, will Hulu continue to be seen as worth while investment for its owners? Will new episodes of TV continue to be available online for free and legally? And how will cable provides, networks, and the Internet ultimately blend together?