LOS ANGELES (October 4, 2006) — Fox Broadcasting will air reruns of some of its TV shows on the Internet to try to keep viewers hooked during the baseball playoffs.
But unlike other networks that stream advertising-supported episodes on their own Web sites, Fox will offer its shows on the social networking site MySpace and the Web sites of local affiliate stations.
The move is an attempt to keep ratings momentum going in October and November, when many Fox prime-time shows are pre-empted by Major League Baseball playoff games and the World Series.
“The decision was to try and reach the largest audience possible, and with 55 million unique visitors it’s hard to beat MySpace,” Mickie Rosen, senior vice president of entertainment at Fox Interactive Media, said Tuesday.
The episodes will air for free with advertising aired throughout each show, although there will be fewer commercial interruptions than on TV.
The offerings will include some shows produced and owned by Fox, including “Bones,” “Prison Break” and “Standoff.”
The network has also cut a deal with Sony television, a division of Sony Corp., and Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner Inc., to air episodes of “`Till Death” and “Justice” but only during the playoffs.
Missing from the lineup will be Fox’s most popular shows, including “House,” which is produced by General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, and “The Simpsons.”
The move highlights the strategy being developed by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns Fox and MySpace. Fox has previously offered free and for-sale downloads of the series “24” on MySpace.
The episodes will also air on Web sites operated by 24 Fox-owned TV stations but will be limited to viewers who live in areas the stations serve. Station owners will share some of the ad revenue from the online airings, Fox said.
Fox will offer only previously aired episodes during the playoffs, although Rosen said the network is considering showing new episodes of some shows online before they air on TV.
One factor that could push Fox to boost its online offering is the low ratings some analysts say could be generated by a possible subway series between the New York Mets and New York Yankees.
After baseball ends, Fox will begin showing episodes on the Web the day after they debut on the network. The shows will air through December, after which Fox will reevaluate the experiment.
ABC, CBS and NBC already offer ad-supported episodes on their network Web sites. All four networks also sell downloads of episodes of some shows on various sites, including Apple Computer’s iTunes store and the Google video store.