FX, which built its brand on edgy programs with complex,
dark protagonists like The Shield and
Nip/Tuck, is changing gears and
moving more mainstream in a bid to add viewers and advertisers.
In its upfront pitch to agencies over the next few weeks,
the cable network is positioning itself against cable leaders TNT, TBS and USA.
"The landscape has changed a great deal since The Shield launched," said Bruce
Lefkowitz, executive VP of Fox Cable ad sales. "That was when we were really clamoring
for attention, looking to break through."
In the presentation, the network will present a slide featuring
all of its current and upcoming programming on a continuum, with its edgiest
material (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
Sons of Anarchy) towards the left
side, and some of its more mainstream shows (the upcoming Terriers and Lights Out)
on the right, with the other shows spread between them.
"I think it is important to talk about the originals in
basic cable as a continuum, from the edgy, adult side of it, which we cornered the
market with The Shield and Nip/Tuck, to the other end of the
spectrum, which would include The Closer
or White Collar," Lefkowitz said. "We
are never going to be all the way to the right side, we are never going to do The Closer, because that is not what
audiences come to FX for, but we have earned the right to move a little bit
more to the right."
FX has three new shows on tap for this year: comedy Louie, starring comedian Louis C.K., drama
Lights Out, about a washed up boxer
and Terriers, which is from The Shield's Shawn Ryan and follows two
The channel premiered another new series, Justified, in March, which FX president
John Landgraf says was the network's highest rated premiere ever when DVR
numbers are factored in. Preliminary numbers had it second only to The Shield among FX series premieres.
Acquisitions, both theatrical and off-network are also key
to the network's stated goal of becoming the top entertainment cable channel.
Lefkowitz says FX's investment in acquired films tops $600,000,000. In return
the network will have exclusive cable rights to films like Iron Man, Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen and Avatar.
It also includes family friendly fare from Dreamworks Animation, including Monsters vs. Aliens, Shrek Goes Fourth and the sequel to Kung Fu Panda.
"We are now, lock, stock the movie destination through
2014-2015," Lefkowitz said.
In addition, the network points to its acquisition of comedy
Two and a Half Men as the type of off
network show it is looking to acquire. Lefkowitz called it the network's "all
star utility player" that can be used in a number of timeslots and situations.
FX also plans to pitch advertisers on product integration
opportunities on its new, broader reaching shows.
"Our strategy is fewer, smarter, larger," Lefkowitz said. "We
can promote their brands and really create the connection between the
advertiser and the consumer. That is what we really think we can offer, impact,
and the relationship with our consumers."
Lefkowitz used the example of Cadillac in drama series Damages as an effective use of product