Interesting example they use in this analysis of ABC’s online streaming policy. Basically, the channel has decided to enforce a delay. Previously, ABC shows were available to watch online for free (through Hulu or ABC.com) the day after they aired. Now, it’s a week. While the studio likely wants to drive customers to pay outlets, the end result is that viewers are turning to free but non-legal methods. Easy availability is key, and promptly.
So, for example, when it comes to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a show that’s of middling quality, thus one many people might watch but not want to pay for), the enforced delay meant that episode 11 (post-delay) was streamed almost 6 times as much as episode 10 (pre-delay). As TorrentFreak says,
The increase can in part be explained by the streaming delay, as there was no significant increase in regular TV ratings or talk about the show on social media.
… In fact, all ABC shows saw an increase of at least 50% or more in BitTorrent downloads compared to their last original episode.
In this particular case, the show went from #60 in worldwide downloads to #4.
Of course, ABC has every right to do whatever it wants with its content, but assuming that customers will passively accept decisions that result in worse experiences for them is no longer a smart or valid thing to do. Customers have options, and even though they’re technically illegal in many cases, this “crime” is perceived as the moral equivalent of speeding, something almost everyone does without much worry. Viewers just don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to watch what they want when and where they want, particularly since the series was shown for free in the first place.