The practice of broadcast, cable, and paid television networks releasing installments of series on the internet to generate marketing buzz and whet consumers’ entertainment appetites before their broadcast, cable, or paid television network premieres is nothing new. HBO was doing it with Funny or Die way back in 2008 and, at the time, it still was only something relatively new.

So, it’s nothing new but good to know if you’re looking to get a head start on your self-prescribed regimen of primetime television consumption this fall that a number of installments of a number of shows were or will be first available online.

Viewers could catch the premiere of Fox’s New Girl with Zooey Deschanel (unfortunately it’s not this Zooey Deschanel) on Hulu, iTunes, Fox On Demand and on Deschanel’s “ultimate entertainment destination for smart, independent and creative females” HelloGiggles.com. Meanwhile, ABC’s Facebook fans had an opportunity to see Revenge before the rest of the Western world and The CW released Hart of Dixie and Secret Circle on iTunes before TV.

Now, NBC will release the third installment of Christina Applegate and Will Arnett’s comedy Up All Night and the second installment of Whitney Cumming’s eponymous Whitney before their Wednesday and Thursday night broadcast premieres. Where can you watch them? Yahoo.

Instead of bowing the episodes early on a premium, on demand streaming video service in which NBC has an ownership stake, the powers that be opted to show the shows early on one of the most highly trafficked destination sites on the internet. Why? There are a couple obvious answers.

  1. Maybe it’s just marketing. Maybe NBC didn’t debut episodes early on Hulu because the network execs wanted to try leverage Yahoo’s massive traffic to expose the programs to as many would-be viewers as possible. It’s certainly a tactic Yahoo uses for its own shows.
  2. Or maybe it’s more telling than that. Maybe it’s a sign of what’s to come. With a Hulu sale seemingly imminent, maybe this is NBC’s way of testing how promotional and distribution initiatives for its programs will work with other, more established online destinations.

Yahoo’s already incorporating Hollywood talent into its upcoming programming slate of original web series. It’s not too much of a stretch to think it could add an NBC show or two to the lineup. Regardless, you should watch Up all Night. I love me some Will Arnett.

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