FX is shifting its online strategy and will stream full episodes of its entertainment programs on its own Website for the first time.
The move comes as part of a total relaunch of FXnetworks.com that will bow on Aug. 27. Full episode streaming is expected by Sept. 22. Through October and November, FX will roll out a redesigned community area, scheduling area and an expanded movie area.
Previously, FX shows were streamed only on the NBC Universal/News Corp. joint venture Hulu and on Comcast-owned Fancast. They have also been available on Apple's iTunes store.
There will be an eight-day window from when an episode airs to when it appears on FXnetworks.com, Hulu and iTunes. During that period, FX's affiliates will be able to show the episode via their video-on-demand platforms.
FX hopes that bringing the video streaming in-house will allow the cable network to offer advertisers the ability to buy ads not just on the network, but on replays online, while circumventing the revenue-sharing model offered by Hulu.
“It's about creating a site that's about ease of use, that can then create better engagement, which then has benefit both to the fans of our shows as well as to our advertisers who will now be on [FXnetworks.com],” says Chuck Saftler, executive VP of programming for FX. “We will be able through this to do more with our ad partners and advertisers on our site.”
But FX is hardly turning its back on Hulu. Signature comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has consistently been one of the strongest-performing shows on Hulu, and executives at the network are looking to take advantage of that. FX placed ads for the new season of Sunny on Hulu, seeking to draw viewers there back to the network.
“It creates a nice consumer convection current where we are able to feed one another and build each other's brands,” says Stephanie Gibbons, executive VP of marketing for FX. “[It allows] us to expand our reach, and gives us multiple touch points to consumers, which we feel is critical to the survival of our content and the proliferation of it.”
The Website relaunch is timed to the Sept. 2 final season premiere of The Shield, though FX does not have streaming rights for that show. The network also has the return of Sunny Sept. 18, as well as the premieres of new drama Sons of Anarchy Sept. 3 and comedy Testees Oct. 9.
At launch, the video back-catalog will consist of seasons one and two of Sunny and all of 30 Days. The network says that for each of the shows currently on the air except The Shield, it expects to have three rolling episodes available at any given time.
FX will be using the Move Media Player to stream episodes, the same one used by Fox.com and ABC.com. The episodes will feature pre-roll advertising, and either 15- or 30-second spots where commercials would normally appear.