Streaming video services may soon require cable TV subscriptions


— 11:31 AM on May 1, 2012

Thanks to streaming (and a little help from BitTorrent,) folks are increasingly ditching their cable TV service to watch videos online. The cable companies aren't giving up without a fight, though. According to the New York Post, some streaming services will soon require users to enter a cable TV account number before they can watch content. This so-called authentication model is reportedly being considered by Hulu. A separate article reveals that the "vast majority" of NBC's streaming Olympics coverage will require authentication, as well.

TechCrunch has additional information from a source close to Hulu, who confirms that the company has been looking into authentication for several years. Hulu apparently doesn't want to be the first service to require authentication, but it "may have to give in to its partners’ pressure soon or later." Although Hulu subscribers without cable TV accounts may not be locked out of the service entirely, it seems they could be denied access to shows for at least 30 days after their initial release.

If streaming services move to an authentication model that gives cable TV subscribers early or exclusive access to content, I can't help but think other users will turn to illicit sources like BitTorrent. Indeed, authentication requirements may drive even more users to cut the cord on their cable service, if only out of spite.

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