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Fox Takes Wait-and-See Approach to New Platforms

Jan 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

While other networks are jumping ahead in terms of making deals with new digital platforms for their programming, Fox is moving slowly, the network’s President of Entertainment Peter Liguori said at the Television Critics Association press tour Tuesday.

“It’s been our strategy not to go out and be first, but go out with our best strategy,” Mr. Liguori said at the TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. “We’re taking a more measured approach to what works and what may not work. It’s the quintessential marathon, not a sprint.”

When asked which model he thinks is most likely to work among the new platforms, Mr. Liguori quipped, “If I had that sense I’d work at a [venture capital firm] right now and try to add a zero to my salary.”

One of the risks of making quick deals is that the network’s relationship with the local Fox stations could be harmed, Mr. Ligouri said.

“It puts up to risk your relationship with your affiliates,” he said.

But making any conclusions about what platforms consumers will respond to and at what price is still up in the air, he said.

“Right now it’s at such a nascent stage nobody knows,” Mr. Liguori said.

It is “highly unlikely” that the Emmy-winning comedy “Arrested Development” will be back for another season on the network, Mr. Liguori said, adding that he had no knowledge of discussions that may put the show at either ABC or Showtime.

In terms of a return of the animated comedy “Futurama,” Mr. Ligouri left the door open.

“There’s no doubt no that the ‘Family Guy’ model worked outstandingly,” he said, noting that the show, which had been canceled and off the air for years, returned to Fox with original episodes. “There haven’t been any active negotiations at this point,” he said of “Futurama,” but, “I would be an ostrich not to realize what’s going on.”

In terms of developing any more late-night programming for Fox, the network has added an executive to focus on the time period but isn’t expecting to add new series anytime soon, Mr. Ligouri said.

“There is no doubt there are a lot of cadavers” Mr. Liguori said of once-promising late-night programming that failed in the marketplace. “The best way to [avoid] that is to take a measured approach. It’s highly unlikely we are going to come out with a big proclamation. “

Fox made other programming announcements:

  • First-season drama “Bones” will move to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. starting March 8. “Prison Break” is back after the February sweeps, returning Mondays starting March 13 at 8 p.m.

  • The network is premiering two comedies in March. “Free Ride,” debuts post-“American Idol” Wednesday, Mar. 1, before moving to Sundays at 9:30 p.m., replacing “American Dad” until late April. “The Loop” premieres after “Idol” Wednesday, Mar. 15, and has its time period premiere Thursday, Mar. 16, at 8:30 p.m. after “That ’70s Show.” “Stacked” will return to the time period later in the season.

  • After seven seasons “Malcolm in the Middle’s” series finale is set for Sunday, May 14, capping off its run with its 150th episode. “That ’70s Show” will end its eight-season run Thursday, May 18, at 8 p.m. with its 200th episode. It is still unclear whether former series regulars Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace will return for the series finale, Mr. Liguori said.