Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fox Targets Dorms for TV Streams

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.

- Peter Liguori, Fox Entertainment chairman

In Michael Schneider, "Fox to Stream Premieres for Dorms," Variety, April 24, 2008

Fox television and internet strategists have come up with a promotion for two new Fox TV series that aims to attract desired young-adult viewers who go online. Fox will stream the broadcast premiere of Fringe and season opener of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles online at the same time as they bow on TV. However, only people from a .edu domain will be technologically able to watch the stream. Fox figures that most of the .edu viewers will be college students. It knows that they often prefer the web to viewing traditional television. By allowing access, Fox is hoping to short-circuit illegal pirating of the programs as well as to get young people talking about the shows.

The Variety article doesn't point this out, but isolating the streaming audience to the .edu domain has an additional benefit. As Fox executives know, the Nielsen TV ratings do not canvas college campuses except when an individual student comes from a home that is part of the Nielsen national TV sample. If Fox allowed anyone to view the stream online, that might have lowered the national TV rating for the shows. (This is what happened to Gossip Girl on the CW network.) Instead, Fox strategists hope that their approach will raise the shows' profiles among the target audience, short-circuit piracy, build a fan base, and not canibalize its TV ratings--all at the same time.

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