Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Now on iTunes, for Free: A Show You Can’t Watch on Fox for a Couple Weeks

Fox is leading the charge to take TV episodes that used to be free and easy to access on the Web, and make them more expensive and/or harder to find.

But the network doesn’t always want to play hard to get. Right now, you can go to iTunes and watch an episode of “New Girl,” a show so new it hasn’t appeared on Fox at all yet.

Fox started giving away free downloads of the Zooey Deschanel sitcom via Apple’s store this morning; next week, it will start promoting the show on Hulu, and other sites. All of the free views will disappear before the show’s debut on Sept. 28.

After that, the show will be tucked back into Fox’s new eight-day “window,” which will make the show harder to watch on the Web, unless you’re a subscriber to either the Dish Network or Hulu Plus. (Here we’ll note that News Corp. owns Fox, and part of Hulu, and this Web site, too).

As Variety notes, TV networks have been handing out freebies on iTunes for years, but the trade journal thinks this is only the second time a U.S. broadcaster has done it. That’s worth noting, because the broadcasters have to worry about appeasing powerful local affiliates, who worry that free Web views equal small audiences for them and their local advertisers.

The other issue with the strategy: Last year, when Fox tried it for the first time, it didn’t work at all. Fox aired two episodes of “Lone Star” before it pulled the plug.

Here’s the first sneak peak Fox offered for “New Girl,” back in May, when it unveiled the show for advertisers.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik