'Fringe,' 'Terminator' bow to college audiences

In a first, Fox will stream the premiere of “Fringe” and season opener of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” online at the same time as they bow on TV.

But there’s a catch: Only computer users on college campuses will be able to log in to watch the simul-stream.

Move helps Fox expose the trend-setting college audience — who are more likely to have computers than TVs in their dorm rooms — to the shows. 

Computers logging into Fox.com from a college-based .edu domain will be given full streaming access to “Terminator” on Sept. 8, the same night it returns on Fox, and the series premiere of “Fringe” Sept. 9, when it launches on the net.

Fox content strategy senior VP Bill Bradford came up with the idea after noticing that .edu addresses were among Fox.com’s top visitors.

“We talked about what we could do with colleges given the fact that we have so much traffic coming from them,” said Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori. “The light bulb went off — by simul-streaming ‘Fringe’ and ‘Sarah Connor,’ (the college students) get to see the show, and we get the increased fanbase and buzz.”

The sites also will offer up behind-the-scenes footage, cast interviews and musicvideos for college viewers.

The promotion also comes as Nielsen begins to measure college-student viewing in a limited fashion. Last year Nielsen started including college students living away from home in its national People Meter ratings. The ratings firm doesn’t consider dorm rooms as separate households but includes students who happen to be a part of a Nielsen family.

Ironically, college students are among the most notorious for using their .edu addresses to illegally download copyrighted content — which perhaps include the bootleg copies of “Fringe” currently making the Internet rounds. Now that “Fringe” will be streamed, Liguori said, “There’s no need to do anything dumb.”

Liguori said it’s too soon to determine whether the network will regularly stream premieres or regular episodes simultaneously with their on-air runs. “We’ll see how this experiment goes,” he said.

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