Patt Morrison for August 29, 2011

The end of free TV?

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Joe Ross/Flickr

Clunky television sets are now outdated...but could free, online TV become a thing of the past as well?

If you turn to free, online sites like Hulu to watch your favorite TV shows after they air, you may soon be kissing that convenience good-bye.

Network giant Fox has announced that the network will soon require viewers who want to watch their content on the web within 8 days of its airdate to use the “subscriber authentication model”—in other words, to provide an ID and password to prove that they are Dish network customers. And Fox isn’t the only network, ABC may be following suit. The new TV paywall, dubbed the “Great Free TV Web Pullback of 2011,” likely has its origins in company worries that people will stop paying their monthly cable bills if they can easily access the same content on the Internet. A similar strategy has been implemented by newspapers like the New York Times, which are struggling to stay afloat in today’s tough economy. But is executive logic about peoples’ willingness to stay with cable in order to keep up with the latest episode of Jersey Shore sound? Or will customers find a way around the restrictions?


Nicholas Jackson, associate editor, The Atlantic and author of “The Age of Free Television on the Web Has Come to an End”

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