Starting next month, you’ll have to prove you’re a paying customer of an “approved” pay-TV provider to watch new Fox TV episodes on Hulu or Fox.com the day after they’re aired—otherwise, you’ll have to wait more than a week before tuning in online.
So, when do the new rules take effect? Which pay-TV carriers are “approved”—and which aren’t? And is Fox the only TV network restricting online access to its latest TV episodes?
OK, so what’s happening here? No more Fox shows on Hulu?
Well, not exactly. Fox TV shows (including “Glee,” “House,” “Bones,” “The Simpsons,” and “Family Guy”) will still be available for streaming on Hulu.com (and Fox.com, for that matter) for free.
What Fox is now saying, though, is that unless you’re a customer of an “approved” cable or satellite carrier, you’ll have to wait to watch any new episodes on Hulu or Fox.com until eight days after they’ve aired on network TV.
And if you’re signed up with an “approved” pay-TV carrier…
…you’ll get to watch new episodes as soon as they’re available on Hulu, usually the day after they air.
When does this eight-day delay go into effect?
Starting August 15, or in about two weeks.
I’m already paying $8 a month for Hulu Plus (the premium Hulu service that lets you watch Hulu shows on smartphones and various TV set-top boxes). Does the eight-day delay apply to me too?
That’s the good news. Hulu Plus subscribers will still be able to watch new Fox shows the day after they air (this according to the Los Angeles Times), even if they’re not pay-TV subscribers.
I’m a Time Warner Cable customer, and I pay my bills every month. Will I get to watch new Fox shows on Hulu the day after they air?
Unfortunately, not yet. According to the New York Times, Fox has to cut deals with all the big cable and satellite carriers before allowing their customers to “authenticate” themselves as honest-to-goodness pay-TV subscribers—and thus eligible to sidestep the eight-day delay. So far, Fox has only signed an agreement with Dish Network.
You’re kidding. So when is Fox going to make a deal with my carrier?
Great question. Soon, hopefully, but it all depends on when the various Fox and pay-TV execs manage to sign the dotted lines.
I’m a Dish subscriber. How do I get … uh, “authenticated” for Hulu?
Visit this site to get up a username and password (you’ll need your 16-digit account number or your 10-digit receiver number). If you’re still having trouble, Fox has set up a “frequently asked questions” web page right here.
Is Fox the only TV network that’s delaying its shows online?
For now, yes, but that may not last for long. According to the Times, ABC is also sniffing around the idea.
Why is all this happening?
Pay-TV carriers have long been worried about the trend of “cable cutting”—that is, TV viewers who ditch their pay-TV subscriptions in favor of watching their favorite network TV shows online.
The big TV networks, meanwhile, depend on the giant pay-TV carriers for the lion’s share of their income, meaning it’s in the best interest of ABC, CBS, Fox, and the like to help keep cable and satellite companies (such as Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, and DirecTV) happy and healthy.
That’s why we’re seeing moves like this—that is, rules and restrictions for online video that encourage pay-TV subscribers to keep paying their bills.
Wait, I still have more questions?
Sure thing—just post a comment or ask me directly.