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Kai Ryssdal: It takes a lot to muster sympathy for your cable company, but the Internet does seem to have them at something of a disadvantage. More and more of us are 86-ing our cable subscriptions and watching shows for free online.

Big television networks aren't wild about it either. So Fox is doing something about it. Next month, it's going to introduce a first-of-its-kind paywall for viewers who want to see, say, Glee or Family Guy online right away.

Marketplaces Mitchell Hartman explains.


Mitchell Hartman: Until now, networks like Fox and Internet sites like Hulu have been posting shows online for free the day after they air. But that's starting to get cable and satellite companies freaked out. Why pay Dish Network or Comcast, if you can just download Glee or The Simpsons without paying?

Under Fox's new deal, viewers have to have a paid subscription to Dish or Hulu to watch online the next day -- or they can wait eight days for the free version. Staci Kramer is the editor of paidContent.

Staci Kramer: By the time you can watch a new episode of Glee, the episode after that will have already aired. Which for some people is a bummer.

Enoough of a bummer, the cable companies hope, that viewers will plop down $70- or $100-a-month to subscribe.

Kramer: They want to say, 'Look, there is a value in having this subscription and paying this amount of money every month.'

Dish is the only provider to sign up so far. But Vince Vittore at the Yankee Group predicts other networks and pay-TV companies are likely to make similar deals. And not just so they can keep the customers they already have from 'cutting the cord.' They've got future customers to think about.

Vince Vittore: The people under the age of 25 are almost referred to as 'cord-nevers.' They are going to get out of school and never begin to pay for pay-TV services, because they have found so many alternative means for getting access to all of the content they want without actually paying.

That's a plotline that scares media companies as much as any horror flick.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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