It seems that the Jeff Zucker-brokered meeting between NBC Universal and 20th Century Fox did net some results, as Fox’s MySpace now offers the hit comedy series “My Name is Earl” as a download. NBC also has made it available as a free, ad-supported stream, and other outlets to purchase individual episodes or season passes include IGN, Wal-Mart, iTunes and CinemaNow.
In the press release, 20th Century Fox TV Presidents Dana Walden and Gary Newman gushed, “Making a deal that extends the show’s reach was important to both companies and will be a huge win for the show, for its fans and for the new viewers we’ll recruit through these alternative platforms.” What’s most interesting about this deal is that the show is produced by a third party and exclusively licensed for broadcast on NBC — previously, only shows produced by the network itself have been made available.
The contract between the show producers and online distributors sets an instant precedent for the industry. I’d be interested to find out how NBC’s local affiliates, however, feel about the deal. They’re already losing wealthy, educated viewers to online news sources, and depend upon broadcast exclusivity to sell the ads that support their local coverage.