According to a Fox press release, the major U.S. network has introduced a live-streaming, primetime simulcast service available to all viewers who subscribe to pay-TV (cable or satellite TV). The simulcast’s beta launch is currently available through Fox Live, and will simulcast primetime programming every day of the week as well as late-night programming on Saturday nights.
According to Fox, 98% of pay-TV subscribers, or 96 million homes, will be able to access the simulcasts using their TV login credentials. Streaming will be supported on multiple platforms, including Fox.com and the FOX NOW® app for iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast. As the content will be simulcast to all 210 nationwide TV markets, there will be no delays for viewers streaming live content to the West Coast, unlike conventional network TV with broadcast delays. Fox has already been simulcasting sports programming through Fox Sports Go, but this foray into simulcasted primetime content is the first of its kind for a major network.
According to Variety, live-streaming viewers will not be counted by Nielsen for ratings purposes, but will be counted by Fox for its internal multi-platform viewing data. Fox will also allow advertisers to buy ad time on the streaming platform for media markets of the buyer’s choice. As such, the platform allows for local advertising as well as local Fox station branding.
Fox is touting their entry into simulcasting as a major step forward in the world of network TV. Fox Television Chairman and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman are enthusiastic about the new streaming service, and believe they are setting the standard for all networks with their primetime simulcast: “Adding nationwide primetime 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.”
However, pay-TV companies have reason to be on-edge. Though the service currently requires authenticated TV provider credentials to access the live-streams, this may not be the case into the future. For example, when HBO launched HBO GO it was necessary to have an HBO subscription through a pay-TV provider to access content. But with the recent advent of HBO NOW, it is possible for the consumer to completely bypass the TV provider and go directly to the network for programming. Is it possible that networks will offer content subscriptions independent of pay-TV providers in the near future?