Executives at MSN said the series was perfect for a web audience. "On TV, 'Arrested Development' created an incredibly passionate and dedicated fan base, and we're thrilled to bring this series to the global MSN audience," said Rob Bennett, MSN's general manager-video and entertainment services.
A first for a studio
Never before has a major studio sold a show's syndication rights to a web portal. But because the entire series lasted a mere three seasons, Fox might have had trouble taking the traditional TV station group or cable route for syndication. "The aftermarket for high-end content is exploding right now," said Peter Levinsohn, president-Fox Digital Media:
MSN yesterday said its MSN Video service will accompany the critically acclaimed series with display and video advertising, but no advertisers have been named yet. Fox also reached deals for the high-definition rights of "Arrested Development" with HDNet, and with G4 Media for basic cable rights.
Fox is presently experimenting with a number of distribution channels. It wasn't until May that Fox joined its rival TV networks using Apple's iTunes music store as an alternative distribution channel. Fox Entertainment Group now has 16 series from "24" to "Prison Break" selling for $1.99 an episode on iTunes, including several from the 20th Century Fox library. Under a recently completed six-year deal, Fox affiliates receive 12.5% of the revenue after Apple has taken its share.