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Culture

Fox streams TV shows to MySpace, local network sites

Decision follows moves by other TV networks that have made ad-supported content available online for free.

Last spring, it was considered a bold move when the Disney-owned ABC made four of its primetime shows available online in a free, ad-supported format after their broadcast premieres. But this fall, not only did ABC expand its offerings, but rival network NBC announced a similar plan to make episodes of selected broadcast shows available online. Now, Fox has jumped on the trend and announced the Tuesday launch of "Fox On Demand," a collaboration with parent company News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media and Fox Television Stations branches.

Through Fox On Demand, previously aired episodes of this season's Fox primetime shows--like "Prison Break" and "Vanished"--are now accessible for free online. The video content is distributed through the News Corp.-owned MySpace.com as well as through MyFoxLocal, the Web sites that correspond to 24 of Fox's local television markets. But there's a difference between Fox's new streaming video and the corresponding ABC and NBC versions. Fox On Demand is designed specifically as a way to maintain viewer enthusiasm during the time when many Fox primetime shows will be preempted for Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series. Consequently, it's unclear whether the MySpace and MyFoxLocal video content will continue to be available when the baseball post-season ends.