When TV web streaming was introduced to the public, affording millions of viewers with the opportunity to watch their favorite programs at their own convenience, it all seemed too good to be true. In less than three weeks' time--for some--it will be.
FOX Network has announced that, beginning Aug. 15, it will place restrictions on access to its collection of online content.
FOX--which features popular programs such as "Bones,""Glee" and "So You Think You Can Dance"--developed a plan to limit free streaming of its content, which will result in a period of exclusivity over television programs for many of FOX's affiliates.
President and General Manager at WDRB Louisville, Bill Lamb, supports the decision that FOX has made to place restrictions on accessing its media online.
"I like that they're delaying people's ability to watch online," Lamb tells Michael Malone, deputy editor at Broadcasting & Cable. "The more limits [to online viewing], the better," he added.
The plan revolves around an authentication process that will require users to have either a cable/satellite or Hulu Plus subscription to immediately stream FOX programs, an initiative that will adversely affect many people who rely on Hulu to watch their favorite TV programs, free of charge.
Staci Travis, a resident of Frisco, TX, relies heavily on Hulu's services to stay up-to-date with her favorite TV programs.
"I am a very frequent user of Hulu. Because I work nights, I miss out on a lot of prime time television, so Hulu has become a necessity for me," she said. "I think Hulu has actually, in some ways, shaped what television I watch; if Hulu does not have the show in its free bank, then I am way less likely to watch it," Travis added.
Travis--who named "The Bachelorette," "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" and many other programs as some of her favorites to watch this season--need not fear FOX's imminent policy change too much, though; ABC Network has exclusive rights to her preferred TV programs and currently has no intentions of requiring that a subscription be purchased to view its media online.
"Glee," on the other hand, is another program that Travis enjoys watching and--airing on FOX--it will be subject to the network's new policies. She, however, has no intention of purchasing a subscription.
"At this point in my life, I do not think I would pay for Hulu Plus," Travis said. "I would more likely pay for a service like Netflix that has a wider variety of content and sources from which I can watch my media."
Mikaela Martinez--an independent director and resident of West Hollywood, CA, finds that FOX's decision is "fair."
At the same rate, Martinez admits she is not convinced of how successful the network's efforts to draw in new subscribers will be.
"The average individual--when craving for information as it pertains to a certain topic--or many, in general, will find it," Martinez explained.
And she is right. Travis already knows of an alternative website to watch her favorite shows.
"There is one other streaming site that I use to access my favorite shows," Travis said. "Channel 131 is quite nice because there are no ads, and I can usually watch the show just a few hours after it has aired; it is really helpful for keeping up with the tons of shows I watch."
Currently, DISH Network is the only TV provider that supports this unique streaming access and, while FOX assures viewers that more providers will join in, they advise those who are neither DISH Network customers nor Hulu Plus account holders--but want unlimited access to FOX content--to "send an email and urge your TV provider to provide this access."
All hope, however, is not lost for FOX program viewers. While immediate access to FOX programs will no longer be available without one of the aforementioned subscriptions, viewers will be able to access the online content eight days after its initial broadcast.
FOX leaves its viewers with two options. If the waiting game is a turn-off, FOX will gladly give you your cake; you will just have to pay to eat it.