Fox Broadcasting is live-streaming most of its prime time lineup this week. Unfortunately for cord-cutters, you still have to pay a cable bill to access the shows.
The move makes the broadcaster the first to simulcast prime time programming nationwide on its own digital platform. That’s 210 different television markets where you no longer need a television (or a local TV affiliate) to see So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation.
While taking one bold step into what we’ve always known would be the future of television, Fox is keeping one foot securely in the past by forcing viewers to keep their cable, Dish or Direct TV subscription in order to access the stream. Only after you go through the “authentication process” will you be able to see the shows live as they air. The stream is available via Fox.com and the Fox Now App for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.
Folks watching the stream will still have to sit through commercials. Those won’t be the same commercials that regular TV viewers see but the same number of interruptions will be programmed in.
One glaring omission in the Fox plan, they won’t be streaming sports programs. This is due mainly to the insanely complicated contracts they have with the MLB, NFL and others. There’s also the fact that live sporting events are just about the only thing left that actually push the needle on the outmoded but still relevant-to-advertisers Nielsen ratings. Those ratings mostly just count people sitting at home in front of an actual TV set between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m. so live streaming still won’t be counted as “television viewing.” The sales force at Fox must cobble together their own “multi-platform viewing data” to give advertisers a full picture of who’s actually watching.
Despite these niggling holdovers from the pre-digital era, there was still quite a bit of crowing about innovation in the network press release about the new stream. “From the start of the on-demand and over-the-top viewing revolution, Fox has been at the forefront of providing greater access to our buzz-defining shows, like Empire, Lucifer, Scream Queens and Family Guy. Adding nationwide prime time live streams is just another great example of how the Fox Digital Consumer Group, under Brian Sullivan’s leadership, is innovating to give viewers the convenience and flexibility to watch our programming whenever and wherever they want.”