New Fox “American Idol” Deal Has Substantial Web, Wireless Component

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The settlement of a legal dispute between “American Idol” celeb Simon Cowell and series owner 19 Entertainment, owned by CKX, has paved the way for a deal that could keep the show on the air for six more seasons. The deal between 19 Entertainment, Fox, FremantleMedia, Cowell and Sony BMG calls for four more seasons with an option for two more, all at higher licensing fees; Cowell’s presence would be guaranteed for five seasons. As part of the agreement, the production companies will feed content to a new Fox-financed web site already in the works. Intriguing language in the press release: “19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia and FOX will work together to develop content for the website, and will share the revenue generated under an agreed upon formula. 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia, however, retain the exclusive right to develop and offer premium services on the website.”
Fox gets wireless rights including show-related or inspired ringtones, realtones and video, also on a revenue-sharing basis. Press release.
This erases some major wrinkles in the News Corp. plan to use “Idol” as a web/wireless linchpin. Look for serious cross-promotion and content interweaving with MySpace.com and the other newly acquired FIM sites.

Update: The press release says the site will be at americanidol.com but as far as I can tell, that domain is registered to Robert Dodds, managing director of UK agency Freedom Media. The organization is listed as “musicinnovations.” Still checking into it.

Update II: WSJ reports (sub. req.) that Fox will pay $95.5 million for the guaranteed four and an additional $77 million if ratings trigger the optional two years.

Related: Murdoch: $2 Billion Internet Budget Still “Feels About Right” But Door Still Open

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