The day of reckoning is upon us — that’s right; Monday’s the day that Fox (s NWS) shows start appearing behind the broadcaster’s new TV Everywhere pay wall. That means viewers will have to prove they are pay TV subscribers if they want to get next-day access to its shows. We tried (unsuccessfully) to access last week’s episode of Hell’s Kitchen using the authentication system, as we were hung up by the pay TV login. And since there’s only one distributor on board, everyone else’s experience will probably be similar to our’s.
Step 1. Become a Dish Network (s DISH) subscriber
This is the biggest roadblock to most viewers who might want to watch the next episode of Hell’s Kitchen the day after it airs. Of the 100 million-plus pay TV subscribers in the U.S., only about 14 million subscribe to Dish. Hopefully someday soon Fox will add more distributors to the list, but for now Dish is it. So, for the other 85-90 percent of you, you’re out of luck.
Step 2. Sign in to your Hulu account
Before you connect with your Dish login, Hulu asks that you sign in either with your email and password or with Facebook Connect — that is, if you’ve linked it to your Hulu account. Once that’s done, you’ll have all your bookmarks, favorites and friends available on Hulu.com. And you’ll be able to move onto the next step, which is providing a whole other user name and password, this time from your pay TV provider.
Step 3. ????
We’d love to show you what happens when you prove that you’re a Dish subscriber, but unfortunately we can’t. We’ve been unable to secure a test password for DishOnline and other authenticated sites. So like most of you, we are also in the dark. We expect, however, that once you’ve logged in the latest episode of all your favorite shows will be available the day after they aired, just like they used to be — that is, before authentication.
The big reason Fox wants to implement authentication is that it will be able to demand more money for retransmission of its broadcast channel from distribution partners if it links online access to people’s cable subscriptions. News Corp. is pretty committed to extending its plans for a dual revenue stream, making the broadcaster look more like a cable channel.
By launching with just one distribution partner on board, however, Fox is creating a poor user experience for the vast majority of its viewers. And how long it will take for other distributors to jump on board is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, it could lose a chunk of Hulu ad dollars in the short term. Or lead some of its biggest fans to piracy.
[Ed. note: Hulu Plus subscribers will still have access to their favorite shows.]