Borrowing a launch strategy from cable, Fox will debut its new Zooey Deschanel comedy "The New Girl" online two weeks before it airs on television.
While the move could hurt tune-in for the first episode, the network is betting that online buzz and word of mouth will be more than enough to make up for any losses. The show debuts Sept. 20, paired with Fox's hit "Glee," but the pilot is expected to be available beginning today on Apple's iTunes.
The episode will become available on Fox.com and Hulu on Sept. 13, and will remain available for streaming through Sept. 19. The pilot will not be available on Sept. 20, the day the show airs.
Fox also began hotel and in-flight viewings last month. The episode will also be available early on hellogiggles.com, a blog Deschanel co-founded.
Cable networks have used early releases to build buzz, but the scope of the online rollout is unique for a network show. Fox has struggled to produce non-animated comedy hits.
News of the early online release was first reported by Variety.