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Fox Sports Launches New Online Shows

The debut of the online show Inside Call on foxsports.com today is part of what Fox Sports Chairman David Hill calls his "moving into an area of programming that's probably the most exciting in my life." Which is: TV-like sports shows, running 20-30 minutes created just for the Internet.

Inside Call is the fifth foxsports.com show to debut this week, all at 1 p.m. ET, and is supposed to let online users see Fox NFL studio analysts such as Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson, at home and using webcams, talk to producers about Sunday's coverage.

Hill, who pioneered continuously showing game clocks and scores on NFL games, suggests TV-like online shows are part of a larger arc in media history. TV, he says, was initially "run by engineers" until the bugs were worked out and programmers took over. Hill suggests the Internet - having "stayed pretty much the same" in the past decade - is at the point technical issues largely have been surmounted and storytellers can take the whip hand.

Fox's shows so far, while being TV-like, wouldn't necessarily work on TV. Cubed, the Fox online show that debuted Thursday and features actress and former Miss Hooters Michelle Nunes, opened with the warning - or maybe promise - that "you will see nudity, you will hear swearing." And then the show went straight into a debate about the relative merits of gay porn and the WNBA.

There's a change of pace for the Fox Sports brand. But Hill says you simply have to remember the difference between TV - "where you're an invited guest into someone's home and you behave as if you don't know who'll be there" - and online - "where people have clicked on of their own volition and there's intimacy."

Meaning, maybe, that Bradshaw doesn't need to change out of his pajamas today before webcam close-ups.

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