Fox Moves Into Digital Programming, Countering YouTube’s Channel Realignment | Fox just let us know that Nick Weidenfeld, who produced The Boondocks and Children’s Hospital, will start a programming block to compete with Adult Swim, airing from 11 to 12:30 starting in January 2013, and a program to produce 50 pieces of digital programming a year that could move to network if they’re successful enough. It’s a fascinating move and one that recognizes a new reality where companies like Netflix are serious competitors if they’re treated like networks.
Kevin Reilly, Fox’s entertainment president framed the decision as a response to tech companies like YouTube starting to get into the creative content market. “This is the first time a major broadcast company has an opportunity to seed something in the digital realm. Something that starts in digital could be the next big prime time hit,” he told us. “Some of it is technological. You’re starting to enter the realm of internet-connected television…and you’re seeing those entities beginning to see the value of content. We have an expertise, and a history, and a proficiency, and a prime-time audience base.”
He said that animation was a logical place to start both because it could be done less expensively, and because of the nature of the fans. ” Animation is a very particular audience, it’s a distinct and passionate audience,” he said. “They’re willing to consume things in the digital realm.” This all strikes me as a smart bit of outreach to viewers the network has identified as early adopters. And it’ll also likely mean that Fox will have to make sure its online streaming platforms are in good shape and can handle significant capacity—it’s a way of building a new business that creates benefits for the old audience.