With NBC and ABC both making free downloads of their shows available this week, Fox jumped on the trend with free downloads of new shows available on iTunes.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Fox and Apple have reached an agreement to offer free downloads of the shows Fox is trying to promote this sweeps season: that is, the ones people aren't watching as much as they'd like. No Simpsons or Family Guy clips are among the five shows currently available for free on the iTunes Store. But episodes of shows sure to be forgotten in the sands of time, like Back To You, Til' Death and K-Ville, are currently available for free at the iTunes Store.
It's a strange time to be in the television business, as new strategies for reaching fickle television viewers are being trotted out. NBC decided it was done with Apple's iTunes Store earlier this year, and is now planning to offer shows like Heroes on its own Web site. ABC is putting shows like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty on AOL Video.
The Times quoted Fox's William Bradford, senior vice president of content strategy, as saying, "I wouldn't call it fumbling around. We are trying a lot of different things and there is a lot of learning that the TV industry is going through." The traditional ads-on-the-show method isn't working as well these days with the popularity of DVRs, but it's not clear where the answer lies.
The Fox shows are commercial-free, unlike the NBC shows which force you to watch commercials as part of the free download. The idea, according to the Times report, is to get people interested in the shows, so they'll tune in at the regularly scheduled time or pay to download later episodes of the show from Apple.