If you have been watching FOX episodes online the day after they first aired, you’re about to lose that ability in what looks like a bad move for consumers and a defensive move on FOX’s part. As of August 15th, you will have to wait a week and a day for those new episodes. Now you might be like me and always be a bit behind so no big deal, but I’ve got Hulu Plus so I’ll still have next day access even though I generally don’t get to them that fast.

FOX has stated that they will delay the freely available episodes and that they will only be available with a paid subscription to Hulu or proof of some pay-TV package, like cable or satellite, for the first eight days after their premiere from Fox.com. Dish Network has already announced they’ll have access for their subscribers and FOX has said others will have access once deals are signed.

It seems that the free online TV in exchange for watching advertising is taking a punch in the gut. What’s next? Subscriptions with ads? Oh wait, that would be Hulu.

What this is really doing, is making it more difficult to cut the cord. Other companies, like Time Warner, are also in talks about making content available online only to those with an offline-subscription. That just sounds greedy. This is really a case of the cable operators simply trying to protect their subscription base and profit margins and prevent users from cutting the cord.

However, if we, the consumers don’t see the value of their offering, then perhaps it’s a problem with how they are selling their services to us. Since I am just moving into a new place I am going through set up of my entertainment and I’ve found that the only way to get some stuff, like MLB, is to have cable or satellite. There is no more freely available over-the-air viewing for that.

Of course, I am getting the most basic package, because that’s really about all I ever watch on TV, aside from a few shows that total maybe 5-10 hours a week. What made me laugh was that in order to get what I need, I had to get a package with 200 channels of which, I won’t watch 195. Then again, when I get my iPad, I’ll be able to use the Time Warner app, so that could be a special bonus.

Actually, I was just looking at my cable package and I have got free Prime Time on Demand and some free HD movies on demand as well. That sort of makes up for the price of the package as it means I might be able to get everything I need and dump Hulu Plus. But then, what do I do when I’m traveling? Oh the dilemma!

What FOX is really doing is posing the question to consumers: Will you pay for next-day online delivery of the shows you watch? If the answer turns out to be yes, then we might see Fox.com become a pay portal alongside Hulu. Of course, it makes more sense to have Hulu which gets content from multiple providers as opposed to having just Fox.com which only has content from FOX.