Fox, Hulu, time-shifting and pirates

As the bidding war for Hulu heats up (with Google, reportedly, making a strong push at the end), the impact of networks choosing to delay the online broadcast of episodes is starting to become clear. And it’s not pretty. Hellskitchen

Fox recently enacted a policy to wait eight days from the original airdate before putting episodes onto Hulu – unless you had a Hulu Plus or Dishn Network subscription. The immediate result of that appears to be a sharp spike in piracy.

Torrentfreak, a site that monitors activity on BitTorrent sharing sites, reports that download activity for some of those delayed episodes has more than doubled.

“During the first 5 days, the number of downloads from the U.S. for the latest episode of Hell’s Kitchen increased by 114% compared to the previous 3 episodes,” the site says.
“For MasterChef the upturn was even higher with 189% more downloads from the U.S. For MasterChef; the extra high demand may in part have been facilitated by the fact that it was the season finale.”

Two shows don’t make a trend, but it’s certainly something that should worry the networks. For right or for wrong, the Internet has reinforced the impression that people should be able to watch any program they want at any time and any place. Whether their cable operator and Fox have struck a deal allowing them to do so is immaterial to most consumers.

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