FX Performance/Schedule Analysis - August 2008

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of September 28, 2008)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-34 & Adults 18-49

AUGUST 2008 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

Movies

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Movies remain the dominant primetime fare, and represent all but 30 minutes of the line-up this month. Biggest theatrical titles usually air on Thursday and Sunday nights. The only non-movie programming is the six minute mini-sodes of RESCUE ME, which have been running since June as an effort to keep up viewer interest in the show during its extended hiatus.

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

JULY - AUGUST:

FX's docu-series 30 DAYS ended its run on July 8th, two weeks into the month. RESCUE ME mini-sodes continued on Monday nights at 10PM, and the rest of the schedule was movies.

SEPTEMBER AND BEYOND:

PREMIERES:

** September 2: THE SHIELD
** September 3: SONS OF ANARCHY
** September 18: IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
** October 9: TESTEES
**DAMAGES and RESCUE ME will probably not be back until 2009.

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:

The year-ago story this month is the same as last month. Last year had DAMAGES premieres on Tuesdays and encores on Sundays, plus RESCUE ME premieres on Wednesdays. This year is nearly all movies all the time, and so the network lives and dies by its theatrical titles.

But, new to the story this month was the two-week, highly rated Olympics Coverage. As a rule, theatrical reruns did not do well against Olympics, and FX offered few exceptions.

And so, FX lost nearly one-quarter of its primetime audience vs. last year.  Household audience was down -23%, men 18-49 ratings were down -24% and women 18-49 ratings were down -20%. While not as important to FX, 25-54 demos were down by one-third over last year.

The nights with the biggest declines, as expected, were Tuesday and Wednesday, where original dramas were replaced with movies. The only nights with any gains were Sundays and Thursdays. On Sundays men 18-49 ratings improved by +7% without DAMAGES encores. Women dropped by -10%. Thursdays enjoyed a +22% jump in women 18-49 ratings, a direct result of ratings success from Ice Age and yet another run of Batman Begins. (Men 18-49 ratings dropped -5% on Thursdays). Last year the bigger titles were reserved as lead-ins to dramas, this year they air on advertiser-friendly nights, Thursdays and Sundays.

AUGUST 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

This August brought the worst ratings FX has had since October '07. While there was a decided uptick in last month's (nearly) all-movies-all-the-time numbers, this month's all-movie line-up lost those gains, and then some.

The losses were spread across the board, with households, men and women 18-49 taking a bottom-line 17% to 20% ratings loss.

Every night took some losses. Thursdays dropped the most, with 30% lower men 18-49 ratings and 23% lower women 18-49 ratings.  The best night was Saturday, which only experienced a 6% drop on women 18-49 and an 18% loss on men 18-49. Well, that's enough said.

Here's the top rated movie titles of the month: XXX, Ghost Ship, Ice Age and Mr. And Mrs. Smith. FX standards Batman Begins, Dodgeball, X-Men and Terminator 3 were all on the air this month as well.

FX has pulled itself out of a slump before with hard-hitting, eyebrow-raising, critically-acclaimed original dramas. THE SHIELD and SONS OF ANARCHY promise to be all that. We look forward to next month's analysis.

ADDITIONAL RATINGS ANALYSIS:


The September 2nd premiere of the final season of THE SHIELD drew in 2.1 million viewers, down a bit from the April 2007 premiere of season #6 with 2.2 million viewers.

The September 3rd debut of SONS OF ANARCHY at 10PM drew in 2.5 million total viewers with 1.5 million adult 18-49 viewers.

ACQUISITIONS:

FX is very much a part of the 2008 theatrical pre-buy frenzy, snapping up aggressive packages from various studios. Chuck Saftler, FX EVP said in Variety it is part of their strategy to go after "every quadrant" of the 18-49 demo.

In June it was announced FX will pay approximately $11 million for the exclusive cable network-window rights to air the Sony film You Don't Mess With the Zohan starring Adam Sandler. FX's window opens in 2010 following the exclusive pay-TV run on Starz.

On March 25 a $115 million+  Universal deal was announced. The deal comprises most of the titles on Universal's 2008 slate; about 15 titles, many of which are prebuys. Titles include The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Leatherheads. Other titles not yet released in the FX package include Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Deathrace, Baby Mama, The Express, Changeling and The Strangers.  Titles already in theatres include Jarhead, Definitely Maybe, Doomsday (Rogue Pictures), Eastern Promises and In Bruges (Focus Features). The FX window kicks in about 28-30 months after the theatrical release, with the first of the bunch available summer 2010.

The Sony Columbia Pictures package also includes prebuys to five unreleased titles, which are Vantage Point starring Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox, The Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogan, Step Brothers starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, 21 starring Kevin Spacey and The International starring Clive Owen. According to Variety, the deal also includes these three other released films: Walk Hard, Untraceable and We Own the Night. FX is scheduled to air the featured films within about 28 months of their debut in theaters and pay-per-view channels.

Marvel has struck a deal with FX for the TV rights to Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and three others in another pre-buy arrangement.

FX paid $55 million for the exclusive network-window rights to five theatrical movies from 20th Century Fox:  The Simpsons Movie, Live Free or Die Hard, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Death Sentence and Hitman. The movies become available to FX in fourth quarter 2009, after their pay TV runs on HBO. The movies are all consistent with FX's male-oriented programming strategy.

Other deals completed recently include Columbia's Spider-Man 3, Superbad and Ghost Rider and Disney's Wild Hogs.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

SONS OF ANARCHY (Drama) Original series
Renewed for a full 13-episode second season.

DAMAGES (Drama) Original series
Picked up for two more 13-episode seasons.

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (Comedy) Original series
13 episodes in development premiered September 18. 39 additional episodes ordered, to air through 2011.

NIP/TUCK (Drama) Original series
22 episodes in production, 14 more have been ordered, for a total of 100 episodes. Its last season will be in 2011.

RESCUE ME (Drama) Original series
A 22 episode fifth season has been ordered.

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

THE RICHES will not return for another season, with disappointing ratings cited as the culprit.

DIRT has not been picked up for the second half of its second season. (Just 7 of the 13 ordered episodes were produced, due to problems encountered from the Writers' Strike. Those 7 episodes performed well below the first season.)

THE SHIELD's last season premiered on Tuesday, September 2.

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING:

None.

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