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Are you a fan of a Fox Network series such as Family Guy, the Simpsons, or Fringe? Have you been using Hulu or Fox.com to catch up on a recent episode that you missed? Well, Fox has delayed your access to new episodes until eight days after the original air date. If you try to watch a newer episode, you’ll be prompted to log in so that you can watch it. And here’s the first catch; you can’t log in unless you have a paid subscription with a satellite or cable TV provider. And here’s the second catch, the only service that currently has an agreement with Fox to provide access to the new episodes is Dish Network. Their subscribers can watch new episodes one day after their original air date.

This is an interesting tactic by Fox. For many reasons, content producers and distributors are scratching for new sources of revenue for their programming. It’s clear that consumers don’t want to pay any more; they’re already upset with the high price of cable and satellite subscriptions. So the network is going after the subscription services, and are trying to enlist angry consumers to pressure the services into giving the network more money.

Will it pay off? Time will tell, but I suspect that the subscription services won’t cave easily to the extortion. So many subscribers already have DVR service of one sort or another that they probably don’t need online access to last night’s episodes. And those who don’t have DVRs probably are won’t mind waiting the eight days until the episodes show up for free. As I read the situation, the most likely loser will be Fox which will anger consumers and gain little. It’s not a friendly move, and the subscribers are not likely to forget being treated as pawns.

Posted by Alfred Poor, August 22, 2011 6:00 AM

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About Alfred Poor

Alfred Poor is a well-known display industry expert, who writes the daily HDTV Almanac. He wrote for PC Magazine for more than 20 years, and now is focusing on the home entertainment and home networking markets.