FX Analysis - June 2011

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* 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. Original series help to set the conversation and the branding, but movies still comprise the bulk of the programming and the ratings.

Most cable networks air the majority of their original signature series in the less competitive summer months, but FX likes to play in the pond with the broadcast networks, heavying up on originals in September and January. FX blatantly bucks the cable trend of launching and showcasing marquee programming in the summertime, typically running just one or two originals over the course of the summer.

When originals are on the air they tend to run mid-week, Monday through Thursday, and always at 10PM for content reasons. However, the door has been opened to moving a drama such as JUSTIFIED to the 9PM slot, thereby creating a companion programming strategy for dramas.

In September 2010, FX added TWO AND A HALF MEN to the primetime line-up; the first time an acquired off-net comedy ran in primetime in a few years (THAT '70s SHOW was once a Friday night staple). The program is not used as a strip, but acts a two-hour comedy block on Thursdays and Saturdays. TWO AND A HALF MEN also runs in daytime / early fringe along with some other acquired sitcoms (MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, THE BERNIE MAC SHOW). The program met with success, and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER will join the line-up this fall.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / June 2011 vs. June 2010  (% Change)




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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JUNE 2011: FX continued its banner year, as ratings climbed again vs. both last year and last month. Two original programs launched at the end of the month, but it was the strong run of movies and TWO AND A HALF MEN that drove FX to new June heights.

As the network drives ratings up, it is also broadening its young male niche, pushing more female and older. Compared to last month's primetime ratings, men 18-49 improved by 17% while women 18-49 climbed by 33%. Compared to last year, men were up by 29% while women were up by 37%. Impressive growth across the board, but women's ratings grew faster than men's. Still, FX is still solidly male with a 55% male skew. Median age hovered above 40 for the fourth month in a row, and the bottom line 25-54 ratings were slightly higher than the 18-49 ratings this month.

The big news of the month was the launch of FX original WILFRED, which was adapted from the Australian comedy. Following the failed original dramas LIGHTS OUT and TERRIERS, a lot was riding on the success of WILFRED. Out of the gate, it looks like the third time was a charm, as it nearly doubled lead-in ratings of TWO AND A HALF MEN, and climbed to the top of the ratings charts for men and adults, topped only by featured theatrical Taken for men.

LOUIE followed at 10:30, completing a successful Thursday night of comedy. Although it lost a decent-sized chunk of WILFRED's audience, its ratings topped the TWO AND A HALF MEN lead-in to WILFRED, the Thursday night average, the primetime movie average and the bottom-line Monday - Sunday average by comfortable margins.

TWO AND A HALF MEN also helped out this month. A Memorial Day Marathon grabbed strong numbers, and the program's regular Thursday and Saturday night runs grew ratings by 20% on men 18-49. The program is back up to peak levels after a couple of off-months.

And of course movies were the muscle behind this month's ratings growth. Accounting for the vast majority of the primetime inventory, FX depends on its acquired movies to generate ratings. This month the theatricals did their job, with Taken, X-Men 2 and X-Men 3, Iron Man and Blow grabbing big numbers.  As seen in on our programming page, FX continues to make acquired theatricals a major component of its programming strategy. As each blockbuster movie makes its premiere, FX snaps it up for its ever-expanding library.


FX has found its mojo this year. At the outset of the summer, it is one of the few networks to experience consistent growth vs. both year ago and month ago on core demos. FX continues to move forward, developing new series, exploring new genres and always pushing the envelope. Live sports coverage is returning to the network with college football and soccer deals in place. Original dramas and comedies continue to find new niche audiences. Latenight has been floated as a possibility and off-net acquisitions have increased in clout as they are used to launch new series instead of acting as placeholders for gaps left by movies.