When Rick and Morty’s third season premiered two weeks ago, Adult Swim made the first few episodes free.
Sunday night, however, Adult Swim didn’t air a livestream. Those who visited the site excited for the fourth episode found that they couldn’t watch the episode live or for free. Only those with cable subscriptions to Adult Swim could log in after the episode aired to watch it or turn to traditional television.
Adult Swim did give viewers a heads up on Twitter before the episode aired. The network tweeted out a video confirming that the new episode wouldn’t be available to stream without a cable login, adding that it may be time for pirates to “start your engines.”
Adult Swim later confirmed to Polygon that it will no longer offer free livestreams of Rick and Morty.
“Adult Swim livestreamed the first two episodes of Rick and Morty to kick off the new season and will continue to offer episodes to view online after they have aired on the network,” a network representative said.
Sunday’s episode was made available on Monday morning, according to the representative, and all future episodes will follow suit. Those who want to watch the rest of season three online as it airs will need a cable subscription in order to do so. This includes the season finale, the representative confirmed.
Adult Swim did offer a livestream of some kind to those who tuned into the website Sunday night: one that featured actors performing the script in poor fashion, seen above. The stream poked fun at the audience who turned up for the episode, something that the Rick and Morty community was divided on.
“This shit is getting annoying,” one person said on Reddit. “It's not funny. It makes me want to never watch anything on AdultSwim ever. I don't care if they're trolling, troll any other time except the airing of a new episode. Some people stay up late and alter their schedules to watch the show live, and for AdultSwim to throw this garbage at us and have the audacity to insult us at the same time is frustrating when you know damn well that they make enough money to just stream the show like normal.”
Others argued that Adult Swim executives should have the ability to charge for the content they’ve created, adding that most networks don’t livestream episodes of their newest series for free either.
This means those who want to watch Rick and Morty live will have to do so the traditional way. Even though Adult Swim seems to have given the go-ahead to pirates, those who want to watch Rick and Morty legally can download Adult Swim’s app and subscribe for $3.99 a month to get full episodes after they air.
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11:30 p.m. ET.