Fox Entertainment began offering primetime shows including “Prison Break” and “Bones” on the Web sites of nine local stations Friday, marking the first time local stations have streamed network programming online.
“Fox on Demand” initiative puts the network’s own spin on the video streaming trend by allowing local stations to stream network shows the day after they air on television.
“We thought we might bring in new viewers on a local level by creating something the stations would promote beyond network ad time,” said Matthew Glotzer, senior VP of Fox Digital Media.
The first stations to participate are Fox affiliates in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas and Washington, D.C., as well as Tampa Bay and Orlando, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Greensboro, N.C.
Fox Digital Media prexy Peter Levinsohn called the initiative the “next logical step” following a digital media deal signed with local affils earlier this year.
“We look forward to extending the ‘Fox on Demand’ offering to our entire affiliate body,” he said.
The free, ad-supported shows are sponsored by Toyota as part of a campaign for the youth-oriented Yaris subcompact.
Service will initially offer select episodes of “Prison Break” and “Bones,” including episodes from last season and new ones the day after they appear on TV. Older 20th Century Fox series “American Dad,” “The Loop” and “Stacked” are also included.
On Friday Washington affiliate WTTG’s MyFox Web site offered 10 episodes of “Prison Break,” eight of “Bones,” seven of “The Loop” and 13 of “Stacked.”
“Fox on Demand” coincides with a recent relaunch and rebranding of the Fox owned-and-operated stations under the MyFox brand. Viewers are asked to download a proprietary video player created by Fox Interactive Media.
As the rest of Fox’s 24 O&Os get their digital makeovers, they, too, will be offered the video player and the digital revenue-sharing agreement worked out in March.
Fox’s digital on-demand initiatives comes as CBS announced it will begin streaming this fall the shows it owns outright: all three “CSI” skeins, “NCIS,” and “Numbers.”
Unlike the Eye, Fox said it sought permission form Hollywood’s creative guilds before making the move.
ABC streamed “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Alias” and “Commander in Chief” on its Web site during a two-month experiment last spring and said it plans to relaunch the program with more shows this fall.
Fox execs said the decision to offer shows locally allows the advertising to better target local markets. Toyota, the sole initial sponsor, will air 10-second, unskippable ads tailored to individual markets.