January 02, 2014, 6:00 AM —
Just when you think Hollywood is finally starting to "get it" something like this happens. ABC has announced that starting on Monday, you'll no longer be able to stream full episodes of shows the day after they air on cable, unless you subscribe to a participating cable service, or are a Hulu Plus subscriber.
You will still be able to stream full episodes a week after airing, which I guess is something but still feels like a step backwards.
Worse, the list of participating cable services isn't comprehensive. Right now it includes AT&T U-verse, Cablevision Optimum, Charter, Comcast XFINITY, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Midcontinent, and Verizon FiOS. At the least, those of us stuck on Time Warner Cable are out of luck. DirectTV and Dish subscribers are also left out in the cold. Maybe your provider isn't included either, and if you live in a city and get your TV OTA you're definitely not covered.
Of course ABC wants to remind us we can always buy episodes on iTunes or Amazon Video. Or we could just go grab a torrent from somewhere, which I'm sure is what a lot of streamers will opt to do.
I guess it's too much to hope that these big media companies will ever learn that people are willing to support them if the companies would just make it easy to do so. I'm sure there are exceptions but most people I know will watch a stream with ads rather than chasing down a torrent, if they can get it when they want it. They understand that it takes revenue to produce these shows they enjoy and ads are a relatively painless way to pay for content.
But those same people will only spend so much time and effort before they decide to take the path of least resistance and hit the torrent sites. All ABC is doing, in my opinion, is pushing more viewers away from legit streams and towards illegal torrents. It seems short-sighted to me.
Over the holiday we decided to watch Modern Family since nothing new was being broadcast. We wanted to go back to Season 1 and start at the beginning, but ABC has opted not to release the show on Netflix or Amazon. Hulu Plus has this season but none of the earlier seasons. Our only recourse would've been to spend $40/season to buy the show (or hit up a torrent site). We didn't want to own it, we just wanted to watch it once, and if we had (and assuming we'd enjoyed it) we would've become regular viewers of the current season.
But since ABC made it too hard (or in this case, too expensive) to watch, we just picked a different program from a different network (Downton Abbey in case you're curious). Instead of getting two more sets of eyeballs on their primetime content, ABC gets nothing from us.
I probably shouldn't pick on ABC since other networks are as bad or worse, but ABC seemed like they were 'getting it' for a while there, and it's just disheartening to see them backslide into the old ways of thinking.
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