While accounting for a small percentage of the primetime line-up, original series are a key component of FX’s schedule and brand identity. While original series help to set the tone, movies comprise the bulk of the programming and the ratings.
Most cable networks air the majority of their original signature series in the less competitive summer months, but FX likes to play in the pond with the broadcast networks, heavying up on originals in September and January. FX blatantly bucks the cable trend of launching and showcasing marquee programming in the summertime, typically running just one or two hours of originals over the course of the summer.
This year the net will mix things up, premiering four comedies in June. FX will also try to become a player in latenight as it launches two new comedy / variety shows this summer.
APRIL 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2012 vs. April 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APRIL 2012: With just one original series airing this month, FX was able to improve core adult 18-49 ratings over last year by 13%. This double-digit growth came while many of the broader cable networks faced erosion. Most of FX’ success can be attributed to movies, but smart scheduling and cutting under-performers were factors as well.
The star of FX’ month was Tuesday night’s JUSTIFIED with the last three episodes of its third season airing this month. The program grew last month’s performance by 11%, and last year’s by 7%. Further quantifying its popularity, JUSTIFIED was one of the top SD timeshifted programs of the month among all of cable.
Movies were also a highlight this month. Blockbuster theatricals with big numbers could be found across the schedule, particularly on Tuesday nights where they helped line up audiences for JUSTIFIED and on Sunday’s themed nights, particularly the "Superhero Marathon." Again, what happened at the box-office helped FX, as The Avengers on the big screen gave a helping hand to the FX-friendly genre. The "Save the Earth Day Marathon" (2012) did not resonate as well as the superheroes.
ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE is strong with young men on Friday nights, and the single telecast of UFC PRELIMINARIES on a Saturday gave that night a much-needed boost. Also helping out Saturday night vs. last year was the removal of TWO AND A HALF MEN from the line-up.
TWO AND A HALF MEN has been losing viewers for months. Compared to last April, it lost 16% of its household ratings, 6% of its men 18-49 ratings and 18 telecasts (it aired in primetime 14 times this April and 32 times last April). The program remains a crucial part of the ever-expanding night of comedy on Thursdays, and is a natural lead-in to upcoming original comedy ANGER MANAGEMENT starring Charlie Sheen. It looks like FX is putting a lot of eggs in Charlie Sheen’s basket.
Comedy night on Thursdays has become a franchise /destination for FX, and it will expand out of primetime into latenight this summer. BRAND X with Russell Brand debuts on Thursday, June 28 at 11PM, followed by TOTALLY BIASED, a weekly half-hour series from Executive Producer Chris Rock and starring standup comedian W. Kamau Bell, beginning on Thursday, August 9. In typical FX fashion, the latenight shows are more in keeping with the HBO model than the broadcast model. Like HBO, FX’s late-night shows center on controversial comedians and a weekly schedule rather than the broadcast model of a Monday through Thursday middle-America focused variety/talk show.