Cable Operators

Fox Builds a Pay Wall

8/01/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Starting Aug. 15, Fox
will make new broadcast TV
episodes exclusively available
for eight days after air to
customers of participating
cable, satellite or telco TV operators
— with Dish Network
the first to sign up for the authentication
program.

If other broadcasters follow
suit, Fox’s move to a “TV
Everywhere” model marks
the end of the free ride for
consumers who have grown
accustomed to watching adsupported
TV shows the day
after they air online at Hulu
and the networks’ own sites.

“A key part of Hulu.com’s
value proposition and its
ability to drive huge traffic
was offering next-day access
to select programs from its
parent broadcast networks,”
Will Richmond, president of
consulting firm Broadband
Directions, wrote in a blog post.

Hulu’s owners — including NBCUniversal, News Corp.
and The Walt Disney Co. — are in the process of selling
the service.

Beginning with Fox’s fall season, to watch new episodes
of shows the following day, viewers must log in using
their user name or password from Dish — or other
future participating partners — via Fox.com, Hulu.com or
Dishonline.com (or the online TV portals of any future
participating distributors). Hulu Plus subscribers also will
be able to access next-day episodes.

“Dish Network is proud to be the first pay TV provider
in America to give customers the opportunity to take
full advantage of the new Fox.com viewing experience —
at no additional cost,” Dave Shull, Dish senior vice president
of programming, said in a statement. “Early access
to Fox.com is a terrific addition to our expansive TV Everywhere
platform, which gives Dish Network customers
the ability to watch whatever they want anytime, anywhere.”

Dish is the first pay TV provider to activate the service,
and “we are in active discussions with our other
distribution partners,” Fox Cable spokesman Brian
Peterson said.

It is not clear what terms and conditions Fox is asking
from affiliates who participate in the authentication
program. The availability of free-to-consumer next-day
broadcast content online has been a significant point of
contention between broadcasters and cable operators in
negotiating retransmission consent deals.

“We are continually looking at opportunities to provide
our pay television distributors with content and products
that enhance the value of pay television to subscribers,”
Fox Networks president of affiliate sales and marketing
Michael Hopkins said in a statement. “Our new authentication
service will continue to provide next-day access to
Fox broadcast shows for our viewers who subscribe to participating
pay television providers.”

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