Fox’s Hulu Delay Causes Huge Surge in Illegal Downloads

Piracy of shows more than doubled

Last week, Fox stopped offering new episodes of its TV shows for free on Hulu the day after their original air date. The site’s unpaid subscribers now have to wait up to eight days until they can watch new episodes.

The reasoning behind the change, Fox said, was to keep people from cord-cutting, and to increase revenue from live TV. But according to TorrentFreak, the new restrictions have backfired: Instead of paying for shows or watching them live, an increasing number of viewers are just downloading them illegally.

Over the last week, TorrentFreak tracked Fox shows “Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef” to see if there was an increase in the number of pirated downloads compared to the previous weeks, when they were immediately available on Hulu. As expected, downloads of both shows surged.

During the first five days after it aired, the number of U.S. downloads for the latest episode of “Hell’s Kitchen” increased by 114 percent compared to the previous 3 episodes. And the upturn in illegal downloads was even higher for “MasterChef,” rising 189 percent (possibly because it was the season finale). And this is just for two of Fox’s summer reality offerings; imagine the number of illegal downloads for a hit show like “Glee.”