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Fox to Delay Free Web Access to New TV Episodes

Satellite TV firm Dish Network is the network's first distribution partner for the initiative that takes effect in mid-August and reduces the amount of TV content that is available online for free within 24 hours.

NEW YORK - News Corp.'s Fox said Tuesday that it will institute an eight-day delay for current episodes of TV shows as of Aug. 15 for consumers who aren't authenticated pay TV subscribers of a participating TV distributor or Hulu Plus subscribers.

Satellite TV firm Dish Network is the network's first distribution partner for the initiative that is trying to cut back on the free availability of TV content online right after it airs. Fox previously made its shows available 24 hours after their initial airing.

At a time when broadcasters are getting retransmission consent revenue from TV distributors and industry watchers are continuing to discuss the risk of cord cutting and the potential effect of Web content on TV advertising revenue, Fox is using the initiative to keep consumers from getting quick access to popular TV content, such as The Simpsons, Glee and Raising Hope, without being a pay TV subscriber or paying user of online video service Hulu. It wasn't immediately clear if Dish agreed to pay Fox extra for its subscribers' immediate online access to shows.

To watch new episodes of Fox shows the next day, authenticated Dish customers can go to Fox.com, Hulu.com, Dishonline.com or "the online TV portals of any future participating distributors and log in with their subscriber usernames and passwords," the companies said. "Viewers who do not subscribe to a participating distributor will be able to watch new episodes online eight days following their initial air dates."

“We are continually looking at opportunities to provide our pay television distributors with content and products that enhance the value of pay television to subscribers,” said Michael Hopkins, president, affiliate sales and marketing, Fox Networks. “Our new authentication service will continue to provide next-day access to Fox broadcast shows for our viewers who subscribe to participating pay television providers.”
 
“Dish Network is proud to be the first pay TV provider in America to give customers the opportunity to take full advantage of the new Fox.com viewing experience - at no additional cost,” said Dave Shull, senior vp of programming for Dish.

While other broadcast networks are believed to be eyeing moves similar to Fox's, none were willing to divulge any possible steps on Tuesday. Spokespeople for ABC and CBS declined to comment. A Hulu spokeswoman also didn't comment. 

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai