FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
In the first three-quarters of 2009 we saw movies represent nearly 100% of the primetime fare, but FX started to bring on more original series in the fall, and they are keeping the momentum going into 2010. Originals tend to run mid-week, when they are running - Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and always at 10PM for content reasons. This month we get drama on Mondays with DAMAGES and on Wednesdays with NIP/TUCK. Thursdays bring some animated comedy with ARCHER. Bigger movie titles are usually scheduled as lead-ins for high-profile originals.
While original series tend to grab the interest of both audiences and the press, FX essentially remains a movie network. The primetime schedule is 85% movies, even when three nights of originals are running. Original series help to set the conversation and the branding, not the bulk of the programming.
FX was never a network to run multiple encores of its series, a la BRAVO, and it has stopped running encores on Sunday nights, so each program gets just one primetime run. However, movie titles tend to run multiple times throughout the month and successful titles have become monthly staples (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Day After Tomorrow, The Devil Wears Prada).
FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2010 vs. January 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
FX lost about 15% of its 18-49 ratings vs. last month, and as you can see above, it took similar losses compared to last year. While movies (for the most part) managed to hold onto their audiences in the face of the 2010 Winter Olympics, FX's original programming did not fare as well.
On Monday nights, DAMAGES took solid blows against its ratings. Its 18-49 ratings are less than half the network Monday-Sunday average. Lowest ratings were in the last two weeks of the month, when it was up against Olympics. The program consistently loses audience from its movie lead-in, whether it be a male or female skewing movie, a drama or an action/adventure theme. Compared to last month's debut, DAMAGES lost 37% of its household audience, 25% of its men 18-49 audience and 43% of its women 18-49 audience. Demo losses are similar when comparing the program to last year's performance. 25-54 ratings are actually higher than the 18-49 ratings, a rarity for FX. As a result, Monday nights have the oldest audiences on the network. DAMAGES also shows a male skew this month, a decided shift in viewership.
NIP/TUCK airs on Wednesdays this year (Tuesdays last year), and ratings are about 50% lower. Compared to last month, they are down by 20%. Again, ratings were lower in the last two weeks of the month. Unlike DAMAGES, NIP/TUCK builds on its movie lead-in.
ARCHER is the other original program on FX's air right now. After a big launch last month, we are not surprised to see a dip in ratings. The animated show with the young male appeal took a 36% drop on men 18-49 vs. last month. Unlike its dramatic sisters, ARCHER actually gained audience in the last two weeks of the month.
Once again, movies provided the ballast for FX's line-up. In the face of the Olympics, they provided a steady foundation for the network, and helped keep audiences tuned in.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
After taking a long break, FX invested a lot into original programming last year. The new programs have begun to roll out, and we will soon see if the investment pays off. After a shaky February, JUSTIFIED had a strong debut in March. Next up is the rollout of new dramas LIGHTS OUT and TERRIERS. With DAMAGES, NIP/TUCK and RESCUE ME all in their twilight, the pressure is on.
The network's expansion of the comedy genre has grown, with THE LEAGUE and ARCHER each picking up renewals and SUNNY producing its best audiences ever. After a low-rated "sneak-peak" in the fall, LOUIE has been relegated to an 11PM timeslot starting in June.
So what does a program need to be an FX program? In a Broadcasting & Cable interview, John Landgraf says, "Audacity is a word we use a lot to describe our brand. He adds that FX also has a propensity for "alpha" characters, and the network aims to ride the balance between high-quality, broad entertainment and literary fare. I don't think you'll ever see an FX show on the air that's not about something; about a question worth examining on a literary level over a sustained number of years."