FX Performance/Schedule Analysis - September 2008

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of October 23, 2008)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-34 & Adults 18-49

SEPTEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

SONS OF ANARCHY, THE SHIELD, IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

We welcome this FX, the one with new and original series.  When movies represent nearly 100% of the primetime fare, biggest titles run on Thursdays and Sundays. But now, with three new series running concurrently, it's a whole new ball game.

New series premiere on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. FX was never a network to run multiple encores of its series, a la BRAVO, but it has even given up on running encores on Sunday nights, so each show now gets just one primetime run.

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

AUGUST - SEPTEMER:

RESCUE ME mini-sodes on Monday nights at 10PM are gone, and the new series are finally here. FX now airs THE SHIELD on Tuesdays at 10, SONS OF ARNARCHY on Wednesdays at 10 and IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA on Thursdays at 10 and 10:30.

SEPTEMBER:
PREMIERES:
** September 2: THE SHIELD
** September 3: SONS OF ANARCHY
** September 18: IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

OCTOBER AND BEYOND
PREMIERES:
** October 9: TESTEES
**DAMAGES and RESCUE ME will probably not be back until 2009.

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:

The long-awaited new season of originals is here on FX. THE SHIELD, SONS OF ANARCHY and IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA all hit the line-up this September. There haven't been so many originals on the air since this time last year when DAMAGES, RESCUE ME AND SUNNY were running. So, did audiences remember what FX has to offer? In a word, yes. Monday - Sunday audience levels are almost exactly the same as they were last year. Household audience and share showed no change. Men 18-49 audience rose by a mere two percent, while women 18-49 audiences dropped by just four percent.

Of course, we do see differences night to night. Movie title selection still drives Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, where results were mixed vs. 2007.  But more importantly, let's see how this year's originals held up to last year's.

On Tuesdays in 2007 DAMAGES was in full swing. This year's Tuesday night original is THE SHIELD. Their household audience rating is virtually identical, but DAMAGES definitely had more of a female skew than THE SHIELD.  Among men 18-49, THE SHIELD more than doubles DAMAGES audiences, but among women 18-49 it is 20% lower.

This September, Wednesday night brings us the debut of FX's newest drama, SONS OF ANARCHY. Last September brought us the last three installments of RESCUE ME. SONS OF ANARCHY comes in as the top rated program on FX this month across the demo board.  Again, the household ratings were very similar (ANARCHY is 2% higher), but the male/ female skew mixes things up. RESCUE ME had just a slight female skew, while ANARCHY has almost a 65/35 male/female skew. So ANARCHY tops RESCUE ME by 32% among men 18-49, while RESCUE ME tops ANARCHY by 41% among women 18-49.

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA started airing back to back on Thursday September 13th, 2007 and Thursday September 18th, 2008. It was a strong performer both years, particularly among younger men. Comparatively, audience levels held against households and those core men 18-49 viewers, but it lost about one-fifth of its women 18-49 viewers.

And so the FX audience shows its loyalty to the network and its programming, by returning en force this September.

SEPTEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

FX came off one of its worst months ever to some much-needed audience growth. Audiences increased across the board -- households were up by +18%, men 18-49 were up +23% and women 18-49 were up +10%. Nearly all of this growth came from the three original series that premiered this month. 

Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays were back-to-back movies this month. The whole movie genre took a hit in August against the Olympics, and FX was no exception. Unfortunately, its movies did not seem to be able to bounce back this month - for the most part, they were down again. Monday night actually had a movie in the top twenty telecasts every week, but the audience level was down -4%, and the median age rose +17%. Sunday took the biggest hits of the week. Top draw movies used to be relegated to Sunday and Thursday...now they are spread out across the week. Sunday night experienced double digit declines across the board. Fridays and Saturdays did show improvement...Friday night drew in 43% more women 18-49, led by Big Momma's House, and Saturday drew in +14% more men 18-49 with The Punisher and Invincible taking the charge.

But on to the new series. The seventh, and probably final, season of THE SHIELD premiered on Tuesday September 2nd. Despite being off the air for over a year, the show is performing on par with last season. It pulled up Tuesday night's overall performance vs. August by +42% on households, +56% on men 18-49, and +34% on women 18-49.

On Wednesdays SONS OF ANARCHY debuted, and the first two episodes were the top rated telecasts of the month across the board. Wednesday's male audiences actually doubled from August. The program has already received a second season order...and FX is not one to make renewals quickly.

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA started up on the 18th with back-to-back episodes at 10 and 10:30. The network has been looking for a series of comedic companions to the quirky comedy, and TESTEES is up first in October. But until then, the program has been finding its audience by itself. Thursday nights are up +11% among men 18-49, but basically flat among other demos. Remember Thursday was a blockbuster movie night for FX last month. The true strength of SUNNY is in its young male compositions, which are astonishingly high. Men 18-49 ratings are higher than household ratings.

In fact, all of FX's original series have a strong young male skew this month, which helps the network gain a strong niche, good cross-promotional opportunities and steady audience flow. Each of  the programs dropped audience from their premiere to their last airing in September, but they are still performing well. Unfortunately, they had the double whammy of normal audience fall-off plus the start of the new broadcast season.

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:

It was announced in October that FX purchased the cable rights to three 20th Century Fox movies: Max Payne, The X-Files: I Want to Believe and The Rocker. FX paid an estimated $8 million for a four-year term that begins in late 2010/early 2011.

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:

THIRTY DAYS, the network's only reality show, was cancelled after three seasons

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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