The first episode of “The Wil Wheaton Project” aired for free on Hulu.
The second episode? Only available on Syfy.
Technically, you can stream it on Hulu if you are “a subscriber to one of the following participating TV providers,” e.g. Dish, Verizon, etc. It’s also streamable at Syfy.com if you have an account with a valid TV provider. It is not currently available for purchase on its own unless you work through a provider or cable company; you can’t buy an episode for $1.99 on iTunes or Amazon.
This is frustrating not only to potential viewers, but also to Wil Wheaton. As he wrote on his website:
I’ve heard from countless people who legally watched our first episode that they wanted to watch our second one, but discovered that they couldn’t watch it in a legal way. It’s out of my control, so I can’t do anything except point out over and over and over again that the show is losing potential viewers, and that’s really frustrating to me.
He looked up “The Wil Wheaton Project” on Pirate Bay and estimated that the second episode of his show, the one that you couldn’t watch legally if you didn’t have an approved TV provider, got “over 2300 seeders and almost as many leechers.”
Wheaton ends his post by urging his audience to watch his show in a way that “counts,” even if that means firing up an actual television and turning on the Syfy channel at a specific, pre-determined time. That’s the way to keep the show funded, keep “The Wil Wheaton Project” on the air, and possibly help it transfer over to iTunes and Amazon and other places where you can legally buy episodes for $1.99.
But that’s only a stopgap measure, for this particular show in this particular instance. It’s not even that the “participating TV provider” model is going to lose. It’s that the model has already lost.
In the meanwhile, people who would otherwise watch shows legally and, by doing so, give the shows the money they need to keep going, find themselves turning to other options.