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Who Else Will Show Up for Fox's Walled-Garden Party?

8/08/2011 2:49 PM

With one week to go before Fox’s “TV Everywhere” Aug. 15 deadline, Dish Network is still the only pay-TV player that has officially signed on to the program (see Fox To Stash New Online Episodes Behind Walled Garden).

As of next Monday, Fox will offer new episodes only to subs of participating affiliates for eight days.

Internet users — cord-cutters or otherwise — who expect them for free the day after air at Fox.com or Hulu will be out of luck, unless their TV provider gets on board (or they pay for Hulu Plus).

hells-kitchen.jpgNo other pay-TV providers besides Dish were in the queue as of late last week, according to an industry executive familiar with the situation.

“I am not aware of any other MVPDs that are — or are about to — authenticate Fox content,” the source said.

Internet fans of Hell’s Kitchen, to pick one example, will be spewing expletives next week if they discover Hulu and Fox.com won’t let them watch ex-pro-soccer-player-turned-Michelin-starred-chef Gordon Ramsay slather abuse on his show’s contestants (season 9, episode 9) until the following Tuesday (Aug. 23).

For its bigger shows, Fox has until late September to get cable operators, the telco TV guys and DirecTV into the fold (the next season of Glee, for example, premieres Sept. 20; The Simpsons debuts Sept. 25; and House doesn’t bow until Oct. 3).

Who’s going to jump over the garden wall next? Comcast, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse, in addition to Dish, have been the most aggressive in adding TV Everywhere content.

The odd wrinkle is that Fox is the first broadcaster going to cable, satellite and telco TV operators with a TV Everywhere pitch. Previously this has been exclusively a cable network thing.

Fox is specifically tying access to the authenticated content to retrans deals. That’s likely to complicate things. Does it mean operators will need to agree to a revised per-sub fee before Fox lets them behind the red rope? It’s not clear.

Indeed, Fox’s strategy may be to gain some leverage in retrans deals by riling up MVPDs’ customers with the online-episode embargo.

Note that in October 2010, Dish and Fox reached a deal two days before their retransmission-consent agreement for more than two dozen owned-and-operated stations was set to expire. That was after Fox pulled more than 20 cable channels from Dish for nearly one month (see Dish, Fox Reach Retrans Deal and Fox Pulls Nets From Dish).

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