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NAB: Fox Affiliates Up for ‘Empire’ Building

Related: NAB Show 2015 Complete Coverage

In advance of an affiliates body meeting Tuesday, the Fox affiliates board met in Las Vegas, and spoke with network reps about how to take the network’s TV Everywhere product from a working concept to a day-to-day habit for consumers. Jeff Rosser, Fox affiliates board chairman and Raycom group VP, said demand at the user level for an over-the-top Fox service is not quite robust, but acknowledged that can, and hopefully will, change quickly.

“Once it starts, it will start fast and catch on,” he said.

Rosser suggested that station groups will benefit when all of their various network affiliations are signed on for TV Everywhere, and they can then negotiate with cable, satellite and telco operators for retrans spoils in a unified manner.  Speaking of his own employer, he said, “Once we get CBS, NBC and Fox on board, then it’s something we can talk to MVPDs about.”

Fox representatives at the Encore meeting included Michael Biard, president of distribution, and Jon Hookstratten, executive VP of network distribution.

A year ago, the affiliates, frustrated with a weak primetime performance, got a glimpse at new programming that many felt would turn the tide. The board credited Fox for creating a blockbuster program in Empire. “At this time last year, we were singing the blues about Fox’s prime,” said Rosser. “A year later, we’re talking about how to maximize Empire.”

The stations, he said, were “delighted” with the hip-hop drama’s standout performance. “The affiliates are fully behind it,” said Rosser. “Fox asked us to help promote it, to keep it going.”

In years past, Fox and its affiliates were at loggerheads over retrans terms. Rosser said the parties are on better terms this time around. “It’s not a lot of singing Kumbaya,” said Rosser. “But it’s my sense that it’s a good business relationship.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.