Streaming video could give new life to Fox's 'Prison Break' and '24'

Streaming video could give new life to Fox's 'Prison Break' and '24'
A scene from "Prison Break," which Fox Television Group co-chairman Dana Walden says "exploded" when it was made available for streaming on Netflix. (Isabella Vosmikova / Fox)

The long tail is starting to wag the TV dog.

Fox is considering making more episodes of its past popular series, thanks in part to new audiences discovering shows on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

Reviving established recognizable franchises is not new in the TV business. But now video streaming is providing insight on which ones are worth bringing back.

"One of our shows that has exploded on Netflix is 'Prison Break,' " Fox Television Group co-chairman Dana Walden said in an interview Saturday. "That's introduced the show to a whole new audience of young people who perhaps were not aware of it when it was on the air. So the momentum of the nostalgia of those titles combined with the new platforms make us look at an opportunity like that."

No talks have taken place regarding a "Prison Break" reboot, but Walden and co-chairman Gary Newman said they have long been interested in bringing back the serialized drama that ran from 2005 to 2009. There also have been discussions, they said, regarding new episodes of the serialized action drama "24" and the sci-fi classic "The X-Files."

Fox executives' desire to do another season of "24" is partly driven by the last season's popularity on Amazon, which streamed the episodes shortly after their prime-time airing.

"It was a very good business for us," said Walden. "It was a show that Amazon was very excited about. We sold to Amazon a very short window from the network run and it made all sorts of financial sense."

If Fox does another season of "24," it would probably be without star Kiefer Sutherland in the role of indestructible counterterrorism warrior Jack Bauer. "I don't think he wants to be part of the next installment," said Walden. "There are other things he is interested in pursuing."

Streaming deals are already a factor when networks and studios are deciding to whether to keep current programs on the air and in production. Using streaming data to identify a property that is worth reviving raises the influence of the growing video platform to a new level.

Of course, determining which shows are doing well in streaming isn't easy. Netflix typically does not make its streaming data public or available to its supplier. How did Fox find out "Prison Break" was a hit on the service?

"They told us," said Walden.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio