Monday, August 22, 2011 at 11:40 am.

How Fox is encouraging piracy (and might not even care)

Ernesto at TorrentFreak reports:

It’s been a week since Fox stopped offering free access to its TV-shows the day after they air on television. [...]

Over the last week TorrentFreak tracked two Fox shows on BitTorrent to see if there was an upturn in the number of downloads compared to the previous weeks, and the results are as expected. For both Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef the download numbers have surged.

This seems obvious: Pirating TV shows is almost as easy as streaming them legitimately — sometimes much easier — so the minute a legitimate streaming source is taken away, piracy is sure to rise. I don’t think that surprises anyone at Fox.

The question is whether overall revenue is growing or shrinking as a result of the move, and that’s a tricky one to answer right away. We already know, though, that Fox wasn’t making that much money streaming its shows online, or it wouldn’t have made these moves in the first place.

Therefore, the more important questions are: Shorter-term, whether Fox is getting more live TV viewers, and, longer-term, whether longer streaming windows and authenticated access will encourage people to continue paying for cable and satellite TV access instead of cutting the cord.

If the answers are yes, then a few more illegal downloads aren’t necessarily terrible. If they’re no, then Fox has much bigger problems than a little more piracy.

Also: Hey, cable companies: Now is the time to embrace Google TV and the new Motorola