You no longer have to pirate that new episode of your favorite CW show. Keyword: have. The CW has decided to shorten the delay of uploading new episodes of its series to its website online (CWTV.com). What previously was a 75 hour window will now become just 8 hours, the same amount of time it takes to receive a new episode on iTunes or Hulu Plus. The difference, of course, being that CWTV.com episodes are free to stream but contain the same amount of ads, while iTunes contains no ads and has better quality, and Hulu Plus contains fewer ads and better quality.
This, according to Variety, is an attempt to battle piracy. The CW execs found that an average of 20% of all online streaming of its shows were pirated — and reached highs of 29% for The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. But they’re hoping that by shortening the delay of availability, the piracy levels will drop. They’re basing their judgements on a quiet study they did in four markets beginning last fall where they made episodes available 8 hours after airing and found no decrease in ratings, but did find more traffic to CWTV.com. What they fear, however, is for piracy levels to be unaffected, and having ratings drop; while the online streams contain the same amount of ads as the TV airing, they get most of their revenue from TV — and ratings for the network are already lower than their liking. However, the audience for The CW is reportedly younger than any of the other major broadcast networks, meaning piracy for The CW is a much greater problem.
This is just one of the many grandiose changes new CW prez Mark Pedowitz has enacted; the first being making series available on Hulu Plus and Netflix, which finally brought the network in the black.
The CW will begin the new availability model with the first brand new episode of The Vampire Diaries Thursday, March 15th.