'Family' ties into Xbox Live


20th Century Fox has struck a deal with Microsoft Corp. to make the first two seasons of the animated series "Family Guy" available for downloads on the Xbox Live service beginning Monday.

"Family Guy" represents the first Fox product to make it onto Xbox, which lacks an overall deal with the studio. In the battle of the electronic sell-through outlets, score one for Xbox over main rival iTunes, which hasn't yet landed rights to "Family."

"This is our first one," said Jamie McCabe, executive vp at 20th Century Fox. "We hope to have other content on there, but right now with the launch of 'Halo 3' and the launch of the new season of 'Family Guy' coming out, the timing really worked well for this one."

Noting the popularity of "Family" among males 18-34 -- which also happens to be the sweet spot for the gaming industry -- he added, "It's about as perfect a demographic fit as we can get."

Xbox 360 owners will be able to purchase each of the episodes from the first two seasons as well as the straight-to-DVD film "Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story" for 160 Microsoft points, or about $2, which is comparable with the pricing of TV episodes on iTunes and other VOD platforms.

In addition to being its initial foray into Xbox, this also is first time the Seth MacFarlane-created series about the irreverent Griffin clan has been available for downloads on any platform, McCabe said.

Along with the debut of new episodes of the show, Fox also is set to release the "Family Guy Season Five" DVD on Sept. 18, but McCabe said there is little concern that the Xbox downloads will impact those sales.

"It's a different market and a different consumer," he said. " 'Family' has been a phenomenon on DVD, and that audience will continue to buy it."

Since its formal launch as a provider of movies and TV content in November, Microsoft has aggressively built out the Xbox content offerings as it looks to position the Xbox 360 console as the home-entertainment hub for the living room. Among the content providers for the Live service are Warner Bros., Paramount, the Walt Disney Co., New Line, Lionsgate, Miramax, MTV, Turner Broadcasting and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.