John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions, told an investor conference on Wednesday that his network would likely not continue acquiring shows under the “10/90” deals that Debmar-Mercury has pioneered.
“We tried three… Charlie's show [Anger Management] has been solid, but the other two not particularly solid. And nothing has been really a juggernaut,” said Landgraf during the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. “To tell you the truth, I look at this as probably an experiment we won't continue in the long run."
FX has premiered three sitcoms under the 10/90 model, which triggers an automatic renewal for 90 episodes if the first 10 reach a certain ratings benchmark. Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management was the first, followed by George Lopez’s Saint George and most recently the Kelsey Grammer-Martin Lawrence comedy Partners. Only Sheen’s Anger Management received the back-90 pickup.
Landgraf had previously described these 10/90 deals with Debmar as FX’s version of acquired programming, since there are so few broadcast series that would be big players in syndication. “There was really nothing particularly attractive, at an attractive price, coming off the broadcast networks,” he said.
Landgraf continued that the way these deals were structured were safe bets, since they were pretty well protected from losing money, but that didn’t mean they were surefire ways to turn a profit either. “The only way to really make a lot of money is you have to have a great show that does significant ratings.”