FOX Is Battling 13th Century Pirates, Not 21st Century Ones

FOX made another backwards move to try and battle piracy.  Despite the fact that FOX is a broadcast network, which in its most simplistic definition means that they broadcast shows for free and sell advertising based on how many people watch those shows, they decided to put their shows on Hulu 7 days after it normally would have aired on Hulu.  (NOTE: Broadcast networks also receive money from the cable subscriber for carrying its network).

Since FOX cannot control the free TV model it operates, it is trying to maximize its profitability on something it can.  However, by trying to maximize its deals with advertisers and cable providers, it is decreasing the value of Hulu, the company it co-owns.  After Comcast bought NBC, forcing NBC to vacate board seats as well as the driver seat after the Comcast merger, FOX and ABC have been trying to spin Hulu for some money.  Companies like Microsoft and Yahoo! were skeptical to buy until it announced that the deal would come with a licensing agreementa.  Now, how can Hulu look enticing if it’s selling stale products?

Regarding piracy: people pirate because they want to watch something IMMEDIATELY.  If a pirate can find it easily via channels like Hulu, they will use it.  If not, they will steal it.  It’s pretty simple. Instead of putting it on Hulu and earning money how they traditionally earn it—through advertising—FOX abused the system it put in place, thus spurning users.  If one cannot find a show legally and they really want to watch, oh I dunno, the season finale of MasterChef, they will choose any sooner than 8 days.  We’re too far into the information age to trick people into purchasing cable if they are already watching TV exclusively online.  Hence, after FOX delayed Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef, they received a 114% and 189% bump in piracy respectively.

HBO is the network with the best online presence (HBO GO): you pay for our channel, so you can access our content online immediately.  It’s essentially OnDemand, but online.  The only drawback is that you cannot pay for HBOGo without having a cable package.  In some future, idealistic utopia, cable packages will be a la carte, and each channel will have their own OnDemand service.  If I pay for FX, I want all the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia seasons.  That way, broadcast networks can finally slay their scapegoat (Netflix) by finally controlling their own content.



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