Waiting to Watch Last Week’s Episode Online?

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Hulu is great. Online–legal–television. But if you want to watch the latest episode of your favorite shows, come back next week. Most of the shows available on Hulu have asinine restrictions on what, when, how long the service can offer new episodes. Even the paid subscription, Hulu Plus, does nothing to alleviate this problem. Or remove the ads, for that matter.

Ostensibly, the idea behind the standard 8 days waiting period for new episodes is so the Nielsen ratings can be tallied. Which includes DVR playback 3 days after the initial broadcast (known as timeshifting). They could offer the episode 4 days after the original airdate, but that would mean there would be two airdates–one for television and another for online. Psych would come online on Sunday instead of Wednesday. (Not that I would complain at that.) Still, the reasoning is sound, on the surface. But the idea that watching my show through Hulu instead of a television is somehow less important is plain stupid.

I don’t read newspapers, but I still follow the news. I don’t own a television, but I still watch television. I don’t call people, but I keep in touch. It’s annoying to be treated like a second-class citizen because I choose to embrace the Internet without becoming one of the anonymous douchebags. And I certainly shouldn’t be penalized for trying to do the right thing.

On the horizon, things seem to be changing. This year more shows on Hulu had a grace period at the beginning of the season where up to 3 episodes went online the day after they originally aired. Later episodes wait 8 days. I imagine that Hulu’s pageviews dropped after the 4th week when people discovered that they would have to wait an extra week for the episode that just aired.

Well. Let’s be honest. The majority of those people went to their local torrent site and had a copy of the episode within the day. Without any kind of commercials. So, way to go, television producers, great job at pushing lazy people to incidentally avoid even marginal commercialization by not delivering the goods in a timely manner. Talk about alienating your primary audience. What will you think of next time? Random airdates?