Fox's 8-day content delay encourages piracy

Fox has stopped releasing free online streams of TV shows the day after air; viewers have turned to illegal means to get them

Fox recently decided to stop releasing free online streams of its TV shows on Hulu the day after they air -- instead, Fox is delaying free streaming for eight days. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this choice by the network has resulted in an increase in over-100-percent increase in piracy.

It's pretty clear: denizens of the Internet don't take too kindly to being stripped of instant gratification.

After correctly predicting that Fox's August 15 switch from a one-day delay (like other networks) to an eight-day delay would encourage piracy, TorrentFreak tracked two Fox shows: "Hell's Kitchen" and "MasterChef."

Not even one week later, BitTorrent copies of Hell's Kitchen increased by 114 percent, while the season finale of MasterChef saw a whooping 189 percent surge in downloads.

Fox began withholding its shows from Hulu (but not subscription-based Hulu Plus) to appease cable and satellite TV distributors, according to the New York Times. These distributors pay monthly fees for Fox content and disliked the fact that what they were paying for was available elsewhere for free.

So while Fox's choice makes sense for contractors, viewers -- the people who keep shows airing on television in the first place -- were miffed about having to wait an additional week and one day before being able to see their favorite programs. Naturally, this meant the viewers turned to less-than-legal means.

It's possible that Fox saw this coming, or that Fox just doesn't care. But if Fox, for a moment, believed people wouldn't find an alternate route for getting their quick-fix (especially since said fix was available up until August 15), they ought to rethink their strategy -- and other networks should take notes.

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Brennon Slattery

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