Fox nabs premium ad prices

With Remote Free TV, network runs half the commercials

Fox's new "Fringe" hopes to benefit from Remote Free TV.

Fox is getting 35%-40% pricing premiums for commercials in its two new dramas for the 2008-09 season, "Fringe" and "Dollhouse," in upfront deals with advertisers, according to media agency sources.

Under its Remote Free TV plan, the network is running only half the number of commercials and promotional minutes in those shows in order to try to maximize viewer engagement.

"Fringe" will premiere in the fall, and "Dollhouse" will air beginning in January. The fewer commercials will decrease the length of commercial breaks by shortening the commercial pods.

Agency sources estimate that Fox has sold about 70% of its upfront primetime inventory and could be done with its upfront sales by the end of the week. Fox's primetime packages with Remote Free TV inventory included are averaging cost-per-thousand increases in the low double digits, while packages without Remote Free TV inventory are averaging 8%-10% increases, similar to the increases garnered by ABC for primetime inventory in the upfront.

The Remote Free TV concept has been praised by some media agency executives, including GroupM chairman and CEO Irwin Gotlieb, who gave Fox credit for taking what he hopes will be the first step in the broadcast and cable networks eliminating commercial clutter.

Sources familiar with agency negotiations with Fox said the network was hoping to get even greater premiums for the Remote Free TV, but agencies -- even those who have embraced the concept -- have taken a hard line, which has slowed negotiations.

Fox sales executives were not available for comment.