'Stewie' story cements relationship between nets, home entertainment units

DVD brought Fox’s “Family Guy” back from the dead. Now the toon is returning the favor.

With DVD sales of TV series slowing of late, Fox has struck gold with “Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin — The Untold Story,” a collection of three interlinked episodes (marketed as a “movie”) that Fox won’t air until the spring.

With more than 2 million copies sold, the disc is one of the hottest DVDs of the holiday season. But it’s also shattered the traditional release window entirely, and could rankle Fox affils.

“It’s a very odd situation,” says an exec at a station group that owns Fox affiliates. “What happens if they start doing it with other shows?”

Affils say a release sked like this could damage ratings and upend the careful — and profitable — relationship between nets and DVD units.

The move also raises questions about the definition of “new” in a DVD-happy era.

One Fox insider says, “As long as it’s a broadcast premiere, we consider it new,” recalling NBC’s infamous “New to You” campaign for reruns.

And Fox doesn’t rule out doing it again.

That would fit with congloms’ mandate to increase revenue through redistribution.

News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin recently said of the “Family Guy” DVD, “This is a perfect example of taking content you’re already doing and figuring out ways to deliver it differently.”

ENDS

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