March 5, 2007
Fox Plans to Open Up Fox On Demand to All Affiliate Web Sites

Fox plans to continue expanding its online content, called Fox On Demand, by making it available to all of the Web sites of its affiliate stations, according to news that broke late last week.

The company had started by making online content available to 24 of its 200 affiliate stations that the company itself owns. This plan for expansion of the primetime lineup for the network exists alongside distribution of Fox programming on MySpace as well.

The business model is that the affiliate stations and Fox will share advertising revenue for ad-supported streaming as well as part of the fees for pay-for-download material.

The news, which broke Thursday, also included information on Fox plans to use their own new video player, which will be made available to affiliates as the company plans to expand its content to each station's site by the end of this month and have all of the affiliate stations' sites prepared for playing video by late June.

According to Cory Bergman with Lost Remote, "the affiliates will be able to sell 30 percent of the streaming ad inventory. Video downloads -- which include 24, Bones, and Prison Break - will sell for $1.99 an episode. Visitors to will have the option to enter their zip code and be directed to their local Fox affiliate site for the video."

The idea of helping direct people to their local affiliate station is an intriguing addition because one of the main reasons people are not interested in seeking out their local affiliate to watch a show but rather the main network site is because they often don't even know how to access their local affiliate automatically. Take Jose Alvear at Digital Media Bulletin, for instance. Jose writes, "It's great that Fox is helping out its affiliates, but I'd rather go to to watch a Fox show. Not my local Fox affiliate, whoever that is."

Brad Linder with TV Squad writes that, while "this is great news for local stations who are always looking for reasons to drive traffic to their websites," the problem is that he does not "see a huge benefit for the consumer here." Brad points out that, in some ways, this move to even more channels of content is one away from what he believes consumers want. He writes:

Personally, I'd rather be able to go to one website for all the networks to watch a streaming episode of a TV show I may have missed. It's bad enough that I have to figure out what network a show airs on before I can figure out how to find it. Being able to access the content on affiliate web sites just fragments things further.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is the suggestion from John Gartner at Marketing Shift that Fox use this affiliates mentality not just for local stations but also for fans themselves. "Fox now has the revenue sharing model down; the company just needs to open it up so that people passionate about '24' or 'house,' can embed links to entire shows or distribute kids. Enabling mash-ups of clips is the ultimate in free publicity, and that should be coming soon."

Intriguing thoughts from Gartner, but something tells me the industry perspective on mash-ups are not that they are "the ultimate in free publicity."

For more on Fox On Demand, see my post from back in October., as well as this story about the early debut of the season premiere of The OC on Fox affiliate sites and MySpace.