As iTunes has opened up the market for buying episodes of your favorite TV shows, so now do other corporate giants join in the fray. Fox has announced it will sell movies and television shows (from its own network, of course) as downloads to be played on Microsoft’s Windows Media Player.
The deal was between Fox Interactive Media and Twentieth Century Fox and will eventually reach out to the web’s most popular site these days, and Fox’s hottest Internet property, MySpace.com.
This October, movies like X-Men: The Last Stand, Garfield, The Omen and Thank You For Smoking will be available through Fox’s Direct2Drive service that will release films as they’re being released on DVD.
The shows that will be available for $1.99 a pop will be Fox’s 24 and Prison Break. Also, their cable network, FX, will make It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia available for purchase, all within 24 hours of each episode. Both 24 and Prison Break are cliffhangers that simply can’t be missed by devotees of the show. Some will want to buy the episodes just to have them in their library while some might even buy them because they don’t subscribe to cable at all and want to see the show.
The catch is that the shows from Fox will carry protection, which will limit playbacks to two Windows computers, each equipped with one portable device.
“Our drive to deliver Twentieth Century Fox content via the most powerful online platforms is advanced substantially by this agreement,” Peter Levinsohn, President of Digital Media for Fox Entertainment Group, was quoted as saying in a press release. “Offering Fox content in conjunction with FIM properties enables viewers to access the best movies and TV shows from multiple platforms in the Fox family.”
So, what is Direct2Drive exactly? It’s a service offered by IGN Entertainment, Inc., which was bought by the media conglomerate that owns Fox News Corp. for a cool $650 million.
What is the big deal? The most important and relevant piece of information here is that Fox is using its own very popular site, MySpace, which most people don’t associate with Fox, as a way to cross-promote its movies and television shows. It’s no secret that the majority of MySpace users are teens, the target demographic to beat all others. Imagine the kinds of advertising bucks you could get if you were tapping into the MySpace phenomenon?
Those in direct competition with Fox will be Apple’s iTunes, of course, now seeming to shrink by comparison, even though it once dominated this market. And AOL will have to also step up its online media action as it seems to have fallen a step behind lately.
For its part, iTunes has just announced a deal with A&E networks and Apple for downloads becoming available for purchase from the Biography and History Channels. Popular shows off those stations can be watched, along with iTunes 200 already available TV shows, for $1 per episode.
The most important thing to take away from this news is that this is only the beginning of this kind of dominance and cross-promotion of cluster media. Consumers will have to be more aware of where they send their traffic on the web. The Internet is supposed to be free. If two or three media conglomerates ultimately control it everyone loses. Most of all, though, if we lose the Internet as we now know it we will lose one of the few places where freedom is a way of life.