Fox and Showtime to Stream Shows This Fall

It’s getting hard to keep track of the number of network and cable TV shows being pushed onto the Web. The latest examples come from Showtime, which has teamed with Yahoo for distribution, and Fox, which will leverage the network’s MyFoxLocal affiliate station sites and corporate sibling MySpace.

Fox, whose prime time schedule is filled through October with Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series, has launched Fox On Demand to offer previously viewed episodes from this fall season online to keep viewers’ interest during the month-long hiatus. Fox is taking advantage of its Fox Interactive Media (FIM) online assets nationally with Myspace.com, and in 24 markets with the MyFoxLocal Web sites of TV affiliates in its Fox Stations Group. On-air promotions during the baseball broadcasts will tout the Web offerings.

MySpace will expose Fox shows to key demographic groups, and the local stations will help Fox connect with loyal fans,” Ann Burkart, VP of corporate communications at Fox Interactive Media, told ClickZ.

“With this initiative, we’re looking to bring valuable entertainment and video experiences to our audiences and to show our content and advertising partners that leveraging the Fox Interactive Media platform is a smart and effective way to reach their target audience,” Burkart said.

Shows will be streamed in high definition with Fox’s Full Throttle video player. A :15 pre-roll will precede each show, and three or four :30 spots will be shown during each episode. Sponsors include Toyota, Burger King, Lionsgate and Paramount.

Fox is looking at this initiative as an opportunity to prove to both advertisers and local affiliates the value of multi-platform distribution and cross-channel promotions. “This is an important effort with our sister company [Fox Interactive Media] to show the capabilities of our platform and ultimately we look forward to broadening the breadth of programming. We have already worked with a number of other networks and studios on promotions and streaming events on a smaller scale and intend to continue to ramp those up in the coming months,” Burkart said.

For Showtime, the goals of its partnership with Yahoo TV are similar to Fox’s: to expose its shows to a new audience and grow viewership for its new fall lineup. Yahoo TV will stream full episodes of several Showtime original series, including “Weeds,” “Dexter,” “Sleeper Cell” and “The L Word.” It will also air a first look at a 2007 series currently in production, “The Tudors.”

“Yahoo TV’s online experience and their audience are great subscriber acquisition and program sampling opportunities for Showtime”, Len Fogge, Showtime’s executive VP of creative marketing, research and digital media, said in a statement. “Yahoo’s visitors will be able to see for themselves what the critics and subscribers have been talking about and offer consumers a new way to engage with Showtime original programming.”

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