RealTime IT News

FOX Provides Free Access for Sci-Fi Fans

Bart Simpson is not the only popular FOX.com entertainer to mingle broadcast and Internet content by providing co-branded dial-up services for free.

FOX.com parent company News Corp. Ltd., Monday said it signed deal with 1stUp.com Corp. to offer free Internet access branded for the popular sci-fi show "The X-Files."

FOX.com originally signed up with 1stUp.com to act as its free access agent for "The Simpsons" in February. Both services are available for immediate download at their respective Web sites.

In addition to providing free unlimited Internet access, 1stUp.com will also provide sci-fi fans with free technical support, 100 megabits of Web storage space, and free integrated home voicemail.

Jordan Kurzweil, FOX.com senior vice president of entertainment, said the free dial-up deals bond its fans with the television shows allowing it to give back something to cartoon and sci-fi enthusiasts alike.

"Free Internet access on The Simpsons has allowed FOX.com to effectively leverage the huge fan base and loyal following of this powerful brand," Kurzweil said. Offering the 1stUp.com service to our users on The X-Files is a natural evolution of this unique strategy."

Through 1stUp.com fee dial up services are provided from a nationwide network of more than 4,000 local dial-up numbers in the U.S. and Canada.

Charles Katz, 1stUp.com chief executive officer said co-branding broadcasts with Web casts are a great way to build viewer loyalty.

"We are pleased that FOX.com selected 1stUp.com's private label Internet access solution for two of its leading shows," Katz said. "The Simpson's and X-Files branded sites will enable FOX.com to further build its brand awareness online and offer their viewing audience a valuable service."

The free-access facilitator is a majority-owned operating company of CMGI Inc. 1stUp.com is one of the few free access providers that leaves the marketing to its partners. By distributing its services as a co-branding partner, the firm does not rely of intrusive on-screen ads as a primary source of revenue.

According to independent research firm, The Strategis Group, the market for free Internet access services will more than triple in five years.

Currently, more than 12 million users access the Internet for free. The Strategis Group says that number is expected to grow to 37 million by 2005 and will represent about 23 percent of all residential Internet users.

Chances are good that Ally McBeal may be the next FOX.com program to build an online community based on free Internet services for thirty-something fans.