Media

Piracy: Fox’s TV show paywall doesn’t pay (so far)

Piracy of Fox TV shows is on the rise just one week after the television studio decided to delay all new programming on the web by eight days, reports Torrent Freak.

Under Fox’s new “TV anywhere” policy, only members who are subscribed to a traditional cable subscription can view new TV shows the day after they air. Non subscribers must wait a week to watch their favorite shows on Hulu or Fox.com. That delay in availability is exactly what’s driving the rise in piracy.

TorrentFreak tracked two Fox shows — Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef — on BitTorrent during the last week to determine whether piracy had risen due to Fox’s new policy. After the first five days of tracking, piracy of the most recent episode of Hell’s Kitchen increased 114 percent over the previous three episodes. MasterChef’s most recent episode saw an even higher number of illegal downloads — 189 percent more than the previous three episodes, according to the report.

Despite this kind of feedback, Fox is likely to continue its new strategy in an attempt to create a long-term boost both in the amount of revenue it generates from subscription fees and the number of live viewers all watching the same program at the same time.

Fox isn’t the only television network that’s adopting this kind of strategy. HBO has been very successful in pushing fans of its original programing to its new HBO Go (and now also, MAX Go) applications. I also recently noticed that Time Warner’s Cartoon Network apps require users to prove they are cable or satellite subscribers before allowing access to stream full episodes online.

“I think a lot of broadcast and premium content owners are facing this type of dilemma. There seems to be a disparity between audiences desire for content via internet channels and the economic models that support it,” said CEO Jeremy Helfand of Auditude, a company that provides IP-based video ad serving across many platform for online publishers. In Fox’s case, “…its definitely to their advantage to make accessing their content as easy as possible.”

Helfand said he doesn’t think Fox is trying to simply drive more of its audience toward the live broadcast premieres of its TV shows. Instead, he thinks the company is trying to navigate its way to a profitable business model for airing its programming online, despite the setbacks like increased piracy.

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