To the surprise of absolutely no one, illegal downloads of Fox TV shows are on the rise after the network instituted a delay before bringing new episodes online.
At the end of July Fox announced that they would be delaying free web access to their shows for eight days after they air. This policy took effect on August 15th. Before this new policy, episodes were available the day after they aired, either on Fox.com or on Hulu.
TorrentFreak has tracked some of Fox’s most popular shows since the new delay policy took effect. The site tracked BitTorrent activity of a slew of shows, including Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef for seven days. The results are interesting, but not entirely surprising.
“During the first five days, the number of downloads from the U.S. for the latest episode of Hell’s Kitchen increased by 114 percent compared to the previous three episodes,” said the editor of TorrentFreak. “For MasterChef, the upturn was even higher, with 189 percent more downloads from the U.S.”
It’s not particularly surprising that people are now pirating the shows instead of waiting the eight days to watch them online. Why wait when the content is available? For many, using BitTorrent is just as convenient as browsing to Fox.com or Hulu. Torrenting the shows also provides the content without any commercial interruptions, of which Fox.com and Hulu have many.
Fox still believes this delay is the right way to go. Scott Grogin, senior vice president of communications for the Fox Networks Group defended the delay to CNET saying,
“Authenticating viewers is not about making sure they only watch live…in fact, quite the opposite. We support a ‘TV Everywhere’ proposition and are working with our distribution partners to achieve that goal. We want the 90-plus million households who pay to watch our programming via cable/satellite/telco to receive maximum benefit and ultimately be able to watch live, via DVR, on , online, or through one of the various tablet apps that allow in-home viewing,” said Grogin. “We are actively in negotiations with all major providers regarding authentication of their customers and we hope to announce several more agreements before the start of the new television season in mid-September.”
Not one part of that statement discusses the benefit to viewers for having to either buy into a provider that supports Fox or wait eight days for the ability to view online. Every viewer who goes to BitTorrent instead of Fox.com or Hulu is another viewer not watching advertisements, which doesn’t exactly benefit Fox’s advertising partners. The whole business seems poorly thought through, especially considering the only provider Fox had on board at the start of this was Dish Network.
What do you think of this delay? Is it Fox behind the times technologically or is this a smart business decision on their part?