'New Girl' premiere available via iTunes

“New Girl” won’t be so new by the time it premieres Sept. 20 on Fox.

The network is taking the unorthodox step of letting viewers see the entire series premiere in many different venues weeks before its broadcast bow, including an unprecedented pre-primetime window on Apple’s iTunes.

The bow of the Zooey Deschanel comedy has been available to view since late August in select hotel TV systems and screenings in Fox-affiliate cities. The staggered marketing strategy calls for more sampling opportunities in the coming days via in-flight viewings, colleges and so-called tastemaker hotspots like Los Angeles’ Smog Shoppe.

In the weeks leading up to launch, “Girl” will be available for free on digital platforms besides iTunes including Hulu, Fox.com, VOD and a Deschanel-backed blog called Hello Giggles.

Fox is driving tune-in so aggressively via these pervasive sneak peeks, it begs the question whether the “Girl” campaign runs the risk of cannibalizing the very audience its intended to reach.

Not so, said Joe Earley, president of marketing and communications at Fox, who contends that early watchers more than offset themselves given the social media-driven word of mouth that will come out of the experiment. “Hopefully, with that echo effect, we can bring in more viewers to the premiere than the number we’ve potentially lost for the first week,” said Earley, who noted the plan has the approval of Fox’s affiliates.

Fox tried this strategy last year on a slightly smaller scale with the short-lived drama “Lone Star.” Earley was moved to gamble again on a comedy because he saw sampling as the most effective means to get a core audience passionate about spreading the word on “New Girl.”

It was imperative to have “New Girl” on iTunes because Fox is hoping to reach the aud for “Glee.” The Fox hit over-indexes on the Apple storefront between all the music and video consumption related to “Glee,” which is also the lead-in for “New Girl” on Tuesday nights.

ITunes has been used as a sampling platform for series premieres for years, but before Fox’s recent effort, only cable series have used iTunes prior to premiere, such as for the recent launch of new BBC America series “The Hour.”

“New Girl” will make its iTunes bow on Sept. 6. The premiere will be on Hulu, Fox.com and VOD beginning Sept. 13. All digital sampling opportunities will be removed prior to day of broadcast.

“Girl” will return to Fox.com and Hulu after its broadcast premiere date on Sept. 28 unless you’re a subscriber to Dish Network, which began providing next-day access via authentication earlier this month.

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