FX Performance/Schedule Analysis - August 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of September 17, 2009)

CURRENT AND SIGNATURE PROGRAMS:

DAMAGES (DRAMA)
Serialized drama/thriller follows a powerful litigator (Glenn Close) and her protege.
Status: Second season ended on April 1. Two more seasons have been ordered. Produced by Sony Pictures Television / No Hands Productions.

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
(SITCOM)
This dark comedy follows four friends who struggle between their desire to help each other and their compulsion towards looking out for their own best interests.
Status: Season 5 premiere September 17. Produced by 3 Arts Entertainment / FX Networks, LLC

NIP/TUCK
(DRAMA)
Hotshot plastic surgeons confront career, family and romance problems.
Status: Season 5 ended in March. Renewed for 2010.  Produced by Warner Bros. Television, Shephard Robin, O Entertainment

RESCUE ME (DRAMA)
Denis Leary stars in and produces this original drama series about a firefighter struggling to hold his two worlds together: his brothers at the station and his troubled family life.
Status: Season 5 finale September 1. Sixth and final season ordered for 2010.  Produced by Sony Pictures Television / Dreamworks SKG / Apostle Pictures

SONS OF ANARCHY
(DRAMA)
A multi-generational family drama centers on a young man involved in a motorcycle club trying to face his newfound responsibilities of becoming a father. 
Status: Season 2 premiere September 8.  Produced by Fox 21, FX Networks LLC, Linson Films


AUGUST 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

RESCUE ME

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:
Movies represent nearly 100% of the primetime fare, Originals tend to run mid-week, when they are running - Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and always at 10PM for content reasons. Bigger movie titles are usually scheduled as lead-ins for high-profile originals.

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 now gets just one primetime run. However, movie titles tend to run multiple times throughout the month.

UPCOMING PREMIERES:

SONS OF ANARCHY: September 8
IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA:  September 17
ARCHER: Sneak preview September 17 # 10:30PM, official debut January 2010
THE LEAGUE: October 29 @ 10:30PM
DAMAGES: January 2010

RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison:
August 2009 vs. August 2008  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

W18-49

Monday 8-11pm

3%

18%

-4%

Tuesday 8-11pm

34%

58%

24%

Wednesday 8-11pm

13%

39%

-10%

Thursday 8-11pm

-14%

-2%

-22%

Friday 8-11pm

31%

15%

21%

Saturday 8-11pm

11%

16%

-3%

Sunday 8-11pm

9%

-2%

20%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

10%

19%

2%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

FX finished up the summer of '09 with another month of RESCUE ME as the lone drama lfloating in a sea of movies. After a fairly successful July, which was buoyed by earlier installments of box-office sequels, August ratings were back down to the lower rungs of the FX ratings ladder. Compared to last month, household and men 18-49 ratings were off by 11%, while women 18-49 ratings dropped by 16%.

As was expected, numbers were up vs. last August, when the 2008 Beijing Olympics monopolized everyone's interest and eyeballs. Of course the year-ago comparison doesn't paint the true picture of the FX audience's rise and fall (see Dan Salerno's blog entry, BEHIND THE RATINGS for more on this). If we go back two years to August 2007, men 18-49 ratings are off by 10% and women 18-49 ratings are off by 18%, very close to the month-ago comparisons.

Which is all a very long way of saying August 2009 was not a great month for FX.  Only two telecasts broke the 1.0 household ratings barrier (The Day After Tomorrow and The Green Mile), while last month there were 6 telecasts in the single digit club.

Tuesday, RESCUE ME night, was the night to watch on FX this month. It was the best rated night among households and target men, (Sunday's movies pulled in the highest ratings among women.) Compared to last month, Tuesday was the only night to gain share, but  only among men. Male share was up by 10%.

The best movie titles were reserved for Tuesdays, in an effort to give RESCUE ME a ratings boost. For four out of the five weeks, the lead-in movie rating was higher than the RESCUE ME men 18-49 rating. In August, RESCUE ME was winding down its fifth and second-to-last season. Compared to July, its household and adult 25-54 ratings were up by 7%, while core men 18-49 ratings were down by just 3%. As we have said here before, FX has built its reputation on edgy dramas, but slightly edgy box office fare is really what the network is about these days. When there are no big and/or new movie titles, as was the case this month, ratings fall accordingly.

But this fall FX has decided to start making some "noise," breaking out new programming in the crowded fall season rather than in the more cable-friendly months of summer. SONS OF ANARCHY had a tremendously successful launch on September 8th..  The season two premiere grew the adult 18-49 audience by 95% vs. the season one premiere, reaching 4.29 million total viewers (per FX). IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA makes its return on Thursdays in mid September, and three new companion comedies are set to run with it throughout the season. Two new dramas have been given the greenlight for the 2009/2010 season.  Are FX's movie fans ready for some drama (and a little comedy)? Stay tuned.

PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

TWO AND A HALF MEN, will start airing on FX in fall 2010.

But acquisitions are all about movie packages on FX. They are a key player in the movie after-market, primarily going after male-skewing, edgy titles. This summer they are snapping up the big box-office hits right after they hit theatres.

The Proposal was picked up in a four-year deal with Disney the Monday after it opened in June. Adventureland from Miramax was included in the deal as well. Movies should be on FX in early 2012.

Immediately after the Memorial Day opening, FX announced it had picked up the cable rights to Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian from 20th Century Fox, becoming available in November 2011.

FX picked up the rights to X-Men Origins: Wolverine plus seven other films: The Wrestler, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Bride Wars, Taken, Marley and Me and two action films 12 Rounds and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

FX outbid Turner and USA for cable rights to Paramount's Star Trek, immediately following the theatrical's weekend release. The movie will probably hit FX's air for the 2011 holiday season for a four-year window.

Right after the release of Monsters vs. Aliens, FX struck a deal with DreamWorks Animation for that title, plus upcoming theatricals through 2012, including Shrek the Fourth, Kung Fu Panda sequel, the original Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, among other titles. (The network has been running the Ice Age and Home Alone titles with some success lately).

In early 2009, FX made a deal with Paramount Pictures on a multiple movie title package covering Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Most of the movies were 2008 releases and will be available to FX by the beginning of 2010. Transformers will be available at the end of 2011. Other package titles consist of Cloverfield, Tropic Thunder, Eagle Eye and Beowulf plus a few other smaller films.

Back in 2008 the net got more aggressive about purchasing big packages, many of them done as pre-buys. For the most part, the movies are adult, edgy titles or comic-book fare (Spiderman, Hulk, Fantastic Four).

The following lists past theatrical acquisitions that include movie titles that have not yet started airing:

Max Payne
The X-Files
I Want to Believe
The Rocker
You Don't Mess With the Zohan
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Wanted
Hellboy II
Letterheads
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Deathrace
Baby Mama
The Express
Changeling
The Strangers
Definitely, Maybe
Doomsday
Eastern Promises
In Bruges
Vantage Point
The Pineapple Express
21
The International
Walk Hard
Untraceable
We Own the Night
Iron Man
Incredible Hulk
The Simpsons Movie
Live Free or Die Hard
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Death Sentence
Spider-Man 3
Superbad
Ghost Rider

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

RESCUE ME (Drama) Original series
An 18-episode sixth and final season was pre-emptively ordered in February '09.

DAMAGES (Drama) Original series
Picked up for one more 13-episode season

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (Comedy) Original series
39 additional episodes ordered, to air through 2011.

NIP/TUCK (Drama) Original series
A total of 100 episodes have been ordered. Its last season will air in 2011.

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

No recent announcements

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