Fox Plots Prison Break Plan

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Buoyed by a strong opening night for Prison Break, a “relieved” Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori says the network will throw more marketing muscle behind the new drama.

“When you can catch a tiger by the tail, you just don’t let go, and that’s the approach we’re taking,” says Liguori.

Monday night’s two-hour series premiere of the show, about a man who breaks into a prison to try and free his incarcerated brother, earned a 4.6 rating and 12 share among 18-49-year-old viewers, according to Nielsen fast national ratings data for Aug. 29. It also grew 31% from the first half hour to the last.

The network will re-air the first two hours Thursday night at 8, but that will be far from the only strategy Fox uses to push the show.

“Our next step is putting all of our weight on the accelerator,” says Liguori.  “We’re going to repeat it on Thursday, have another big hit of off-air media next Monday, and needless to say it will have the lion’s share of our on-air promotion.” 

An early-season hit is a big win for Fox, which last year limped through the fall only to be saved mid-season by returning behemoth American Idol, 24 and new hit House. Liguori, who was still running FX last fall, said he was “relieved” to start off the season on a positive with the Major League Baseball playoffs programming road bump looming.

“Oh, yes. I only lived through Fox’s last fourth quarter from being an employee of News Corporation,” he says. “But there is no doubt that the first step out of the gate was better than last year, and that was critical.”

The Prison Break promos will play up the big opening-night tune-in and call the show the first hit of the summer (no doubt the pun “break out” will be a part of it).  Liguori says it is part of Fox’s strategy to market “like a movie studio.”

“We are rolling our fall out week-by-week,” he says. “So we have our first release that did well and we’ll tell people that.  We’ll push Prison Break big time, and next week we’ll promote The O.C. and Reunion premieres with a big off-air hit as well, and then take it from there.”

Liguori also said he plans on leaving Prison Break on Mondays at 9, and will not yet repurpose it on his former employer, FX, but “down the road we are likely to do it.”

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