FX Analysis - August 2010



* Bold denotes programming change


While accounting for a small percentage of the primetime line-up, original series are a key component of FX's schedule and brand identity. When originals are on the air they tend to run mid-week, Monday through Thursday, and always at 10PM for content reasons.

Most cable networks heavy-up on original signature series in the less competitive summer months, but FX tends to run just one or two originals each month, year-round, including summertime. This summer, as was the case last summer, RESCUE ME is the sole original on the schedule.

Although its original series tend to grab the interest of both audiences and the press, FX essentially remains a movie network. At best, the primetime schedule is 90% movies, even when multiple nights of originals are running. Original series help to set the conversation and the branding, not the bulk of the programming or the ratings.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2010 vs. August 2009  (% Change)




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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

August 2010: Another summer month dominated by theatricals for FX. RESCUE ME was the only program in primetime, drifting in a sea of acquired movies. FX blatantly bucks the cable trend of launching and showcasing marquee programming in the summertime, Instead, the network likes to play in the pool with the broadcast networks, heavying up its premieres in September and January.

A bold move, to be sure, but FX winds up as one of the cable nets without a summertime ratings bump. Household ratings were 3% off the 2010 year-to-date average, women 18-49 were exactly on par, and the net's preferred demo, men 18-49 were 7% lower than the year-to-date ratings. Nothing terrible, but certainly not a springboard into the new broadcast year.

On Tuesday nights, RESCUE ME is struggling to hold the status quo. Compared to both last year's and last month's performances, the iconic original drama lost about 10% of its audience. Last month there was a surge in female viewers to the program, but this month men are the dominant demo once again as women drifted elsewhere (COVERT AFFAIRS? MEMPHIS BEAT? WIPEOUT?). The program is getting lost among FX's theatricals....the top-rated RESCUE ME telecast failed to place in the top 10 adult 18-49 telecasts this month, a feat it was able to achieve both last year and last month.

Theatricals were down just slightly from last year and last month. Top performing titles this August were I, Robot, The Rundown, Ghost Rider and 2 Fast 2 Furious.

FX picks up steam again in the fall as it launches new seasons and new series along with the new broadcast network programming. SONS OF ANARCHY, TERRIERS, IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and THE LEAGUE all launch in September, combining to produce more airtime for originals than FX ran all summer.


Comedies are the new growth area at FX, with a lot of success under its belt from the 09/10 season. Each of its comedies from the past 12 months - LOUIE, THE LEAGUE, and ARCHER were picked up for a second season. The network is on record that they plan to carry six to eight comedies in the future, and that a dozen originals in total would be their max. That means comedies will be at least half of the originals line-up.

What are they looking for in comedy? "What we want to do with comedies is very much what we did with dramas," said John Landgraf, FX President. "Put shows on the air that are really smart, really edgy and distinctive."  Good writing that helps showcase the star of the program is also key to the originals brand on FX.