The Fox Broadcasting Company got its start in the mid-1980s when Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation bought 20th Century Fox, a movie studio that had shown some interest in the television market, albeit with little success, since the 1950s. The new Fox network was intended to compete directly with ABC, CBS and NBC-the "Big Three" American broadcast networks. Despite some moderate success with its early programming, however, Fox wouldn't be a serious competitor as a fourth network until the 1990s.
But in the 1990s, thanks to innovative programming and a few shrewd business moves, Fox became a true contender in broadcast television. First of all, the network established itself as a force in sports broadcasting by winning, over CBS, a contract to broadcast National Football League games. Fox also launched a number of hour-long drama series targeted at younger viewers, and the success of shows such as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and The X-Files made it clear that the network could deliver ratings with its original programming.
Fox has been instrumental in pioneering many television genres that would eventually end up dominating television programming for years to come. The Simpsons paved the way for the adult-oriented animated comedies of the 1990s and 2000s. The network produced series such as COPS, which would lay the groundwork for the boom in non-fiction reality TV. Fox can also be credited with introducing the performance-competition show to American audiences with American Idol, which debuted in 2000.
Like most other broadcast networks, Fox offers clips and selected episodes of its programming for on-demand viewing on its website, and Fox Broadcasting is also a partner in Hulu, the video streaming content provider, so much of Fox-produced content is available there, too.