Blog Post

Fox Switches To Authentication For New Shows Online; Dish, Hulu Plus Get First Crack

Counting on keeping up with Glee next season through next-day visits to or Count again — unless you subscribe through a video distributor with the right deal. *Fox* Networks is changing the window for online viewing: effective Aug. 15, there will be an 8-day exclusive window for those with subscriber logins that can be authenticated. For now, that’s limited to Dish Network (NSDQ: DISH), the only multichannel distributor signed so far, and paidContent has confirmed, Hulu premium service Hulu Plus. Hulu is the online video joint venture of News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS), Disney (NYSE: DIS) and NBCUniversal (NSDQ: CMCSA).

Authenticated subs will be able to log in at, or, while friends without those benefits can’t. Eventually, they should be able to log in through the online portal of any future participating distributors. (We’ve checked and Hulu Plus subs will not be able to log in at other sites.It’s not yet clear whether the same holds true for Hulu Plus subs.) Fox says it is in negotiations with other major multichannel distributors; while Fox wouldn’t confirm, the satellite provider’s participation appears to be part of the agreement Fox and Dish reached after a public battle over retransmission rights.

As part of the existing deal with Hulu, and one that I’m told would carry into the next agreement, Hulu gets the same access to the programming its content equity partners provide on their network site. If has a 24-hour window, so does Hulu. Ditto for 8-day window — or for no access.

Fox and other broadcasters are in a delicate situation. They want payment for the broadcast networks a la cable but they are available over the air and, until now, have been accessible online without pay. (There have been exceptions, usually caused by rights complications over a show, and some experimentation with various windows other than the next-day version pioneered by ABC.) But paying for retrans rights when the networks are making their own content widely available rankled the pay TV operators. At the same time, the push for “TV Everywhere” — ubiquitous access through authentication to channels a subscriber pays for via cable or satellite to dissuade so-called cordcutting — gave the programmers and the distributors a new bargaining point.

Pay window: I’ve seen this described as Fox putting up a paywall and I can see why. People who didn’t have to pay before will have to pay for instant gratification. But it really is a pay window. Anyone with patience and a broadband connection will be able to watch new shows on their time after the eight-day delay. Anyone who wants it sooner will have to pay or — and this is one of the risks for Fox and others considering this route — watching through illegal routes may be more appealing.

Fox’s News Corp. sibling WSJ was the first to report the new policy. (I saw it after I started to write.)

4 Responses to “Fox Switches To Authentication For New Shows Online; Dish, Hulu Plus Get First Crack”

  1. What a disgusting concept. They are already getting paid something through advertising, or they should be getting a share of that money.

    And as a consumer, its not my problem if they don’t charge enough to cover their costs through advertising. Again as a consumer, I consider my eyeballs and access to my subconscious payment enough for their somewhat dubious valued programs. My wallet is not on the tablet.

    Again as a consumer I might want to remind these companies that the day of TV domination in the prime time is over. We as consumers have plenty of options to fill our limited entertainment time and more of them are cheaper than cable or sat TV. The only reason sites like Netflix and Hulu are prospering as they are is because they are in the price range of other digital based entertainment such as online gaming, streaming music sites, redbox, and community sports events.

    The days of the overpriced cable networks with their forced bundling agreements along with price points that are nearly 10 times what a netflix or hulu subscription are numbered. No hulu and netflix are not underpriced, they are priced at what the digital market will bear. Let them raise prices beyond a certain point and see what happens to them…the same thing that has happened to cable companies….they lose subscribers like a dog loses fleas after a flea bath.