In addition to continuing to operate its own in-house web properties which include MySpace and 24 Fox owned stations, Variety reports FIM will now take on web development and management responsibilities for 160 Fox affiliate stations.
While managing local, and regional, stations will have logistical challenges, offering the out-sourcing service is likely a smart move. Having FIM manage the web properties of affiliates will allow News Corp to leverage FIM’s core Internet marketing and branding skills across its related properties and it will help insure a more unified brand image.
The deal will also bring with it advertising benefits. As the managing operator of these new websites, Fox Interactive Media will have better access to sell syndicated national advertising campaigns across the divergent properties; a potentially lucrative opportunity for bundling advertising packages.
Joe Denk, chairman of the Fox affiliates Board of Governors spoke favorably of the deal, stating “it is important for local affiliate stations to have a web strategy and compelling online content and we believe the My Fox platform is the the best solution.
Not all Fox affiliates will participate. Fox affiliates owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which controls sixteen Fox affiliates and more than 50 TV stations, as well as some other affiliates, are still deliberating on how (or where) to outsource website operations.
The business of managing TV station websites is fast becoming competitive. Inergize Digital Media, which is owned by Clear Channel, runs 64 sites including major network affiliates. Internet Broadcasting counts Hearst Argyle TV and McGraw Hill Broadcasting among its clients.
The move by Fox Interactive Media gives them a solid foothold in the market and insures they are a major player (even if the only clients they seek are Fox affiliates).