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24 DVD Premieres Day After Show

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Turns out that the DVD with the first four episodes of 24 that was leaked earlier this month was produced by Fox to be released shortly after the episodes aired. In a shift from the normally glacial pace of DVD releases, the disc on sale today.

Now that the first four episodes have aired over the last two nights, the network wants to allow those who missed them “to catch up and be part of the season,” Fox president Gary Newman told the LA Times.

The DVD retails for $14.98, and includes a twelve-minute preview of the fifth episode. Newman said the release was not done for financial reasons, and was not expected to be “a huge moneymaker.”

The standard model for TV show DVD releases is to put a boxed set together and sell them well after reruns of a season have been out for some time, often just before the next season of a show begins airing. But Fox doesn’t air reruns of 24, which as a serial cliffhanger, needs an audience that’s caught up in the story to succeed. NBC’s Heroes is similar, but NBC chose instead to offer previous episodes as free online streams.

It will be interesting to see both how well the DVDs will sell and how well 24 does in the ratings — a strong showing of both could bode well for more timely releases of television shows to DVD in the future.