An exclusive eight-day window for new TV episodes. That's the nature of the consumer pay wall Fox Networks and Fox Broadcasting have announced to protect distributors who pay retransmission fees to the broadcast giant.
Essentially, Fox is moving to make sure its pay-TV distributors are getting their money's worth by making consumers log in to subscription services like Hulu.com, Dishonline and other online TV portals to watch new episodes the next day. If you don't subscribe to a streaming service, you now have to wait eight days to watch the programming. Fox was quick to note that the new scheme only impacts online viewing. All other television viewing options remain unchanged.
"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," said Michael Hopkins, president of affiliate sales and marketing at Fox Networks. "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."
DISH Network will be the first to offer the next-day service, allowing its subscribers to take advantage of the exclusive window and view new episodes of Fox shows like American Dad, Family Guy, Glee and The Simpsons the day after they air on broadcast television.
Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for DISH, said, "Early access to Fox.com is a terrific addition to our expansive TV Everywhere platform, which gives DISH Network customers the ability to watch whatever they want anytime, anywhere."
Fox is the latest to implement a pay wall. The New York Times pay wall went live in March. And just days ago, CNN put its live news behind a pay wall. Like Fox, CNN is also tying viewing to subscription services. Currently, the CNN Live service is available with a subscription to AT&T U-verse, Comcast, Cox, DISH, Suddenlink and Verizon.
'Right To Monetize'
"This doesn't upset me as a consumer, and as an analyst I see this as the most logical business plan Fox could come up with," said Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis. "Most companies that were toying with the Internet thought early on that the best policy was a completely open-door policy."
The goal was to reach the widest audience. They have indeed garnered the largest audience, Shimmin said, and now it's an audience that has threatened to undermine its established money-generated business. As online broadcast offerings mature, Shimmin said, broadcasters are deciding to put some constraints on what they release and when.
"As Internet users, we feel that information wants to be free and we should have instant access to everything in a shared community. But when you are talking about the investments these companies make in the media they are generating -- the cost of creating one of these shows is phenomenal," Shimmin said. "They have every right to monetize them as they see fit and to do so in the way that gets them the most eyeballs and makes them the most money."