Fox doesn’t understand the Internet, or its audience, or the state of TV today

Back in March, I bitched about how ABC had pulled its broadcast feeds from Cablevision, my cable provider, over fee disputes. And now the same thing is happening again, with Fox:

I was pissed back in the spring because the ABC crap happened on the day the Oscars were set to air, and I ended up scrambling around for an HD antenna so I could watch the ceremony over the air. Now, with this Fox crap, I really don’t care at all… I mean, not as far as it impacts my own enjoyment of television. It still makes me angry that yet again, big corporations are treating their customers like an inconvenience rather than their reason for existing. Personally, though, there isn’t really anything on Fox I care much about watching — I’ve long since given up on House, and while I’ll tune in to The Simpsons casually, it’s no longer appointment viewing for me.
I think it’s pretty clear that lots and lots of Fox’s — and Cablevision’s — potential audience is feeling the same way, with the other options we have for watching, such as DVD and Hulu. And they knows it: Fox tried to block Fox programs from appearing on Hulu after the network went dark on Saturday:

Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) internet customers lost access to and Fox programming on Hulu for a time Saturday afternoon—the result of a misguided effort on News Corp.‘s part to cut off online viewing as an alternative in its standoff with the cable operator over retrans fees. Fox stations in NYC, Philadelphia and New Jersey went dark at midnight Friday when negotiations between the two broke down.

Hulu’s Elisa Schreiber said late Saturday afternoon that access has been restored. She also said subscribers of premium plan Hulu Plus were unaffected. Asked if any of Hulu’s owners could pull programming in situations like this, Schreiber said the company would not comment on how it played out.

Fox backed off the blockade but may have started a dangerous game of dominoes when it comes to the debate over online content access and net neutrality…

[B]locking access to its own network site and to a joint venture aimed at anyone interested in TV, whether or not they subscribe to multichannel plans, is a sword with two edges.

A source familiar with the situation said Fox agreed to restore the programming when it realized people who were not Cablevision video subscribers were affected and thart there was no way online to discern between the two. The network cut off access initially to avoid Cablevision offering online viewing as alternative to the TV version.

Perhaps if we just stand out of the way, Fox will shoot itself in the foot.

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