While accounting for a small percentage of the primetime line-up, original series are a key component of FX’s schedule and brand identity. Original series help to set the tone, but 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 and the holiday season.
There is a fair amount of regularity to FX's weekly schedule. Tuesdays and Wednesdays feature signature original dramas when they are running. Thursdays are home to original comedies and acquired sitcoms. Fridays host UFC Fight Championships and the biggest blockbuster titles are usually shown on Sundays.
SEPTEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2012 vs. August 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
SEPTEMBER 2012: FX primetime ratings improved slightly vs. last month, but they are not up to the levels they were hitting in July or in September of 2011. 18-49 demos are up by 5% vs. August, but down 20% vs. last year. With the exception of Friday, ratings were down on every night of the week compared to last year.
Labor Day Monday was home to a TWO AND A HALF MEN marathon again this year with ratings well below last year’s stunt. Interest in the off-net acquisition has been fading all year -- regular runs of the program underperformed last month by 40% and last year by 50%. The program draws an older audience that is less concentrated among the key younger male viewers. Case in point: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER draws lower household ratings than MEN, but MOTHER’s men 18-49 ratings are 14% higher.
Tuesdays brought SONS OF ANARCHY, the top rated show on FX (and on most of cable). The program improved performance over last year by an impressive 16% among men 18-49. And yet, Tuesday night’s ratings are down by 24% vs. last year, as a weaker line-up of movies started out the night. Which is bad for ratings, but a sure sign of strength for ANARCHY.
SONS OF ANARCHY was the only returning program from last year to show improvement. Movies were down by over 10% on adults 18-49, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER dropped 29% of men 18-49 and Thursday night’s comedies WILFRED and LOUIE each dropped more than 40% of their household and men 18-49 ratings. Compounding Thursday’s issues, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA got a late premiere on October 11 this season so it missed its usual September launch. In fact, the best-rated effort on Thursday night was an ANGER MANAGEMENT marathon that delivered numbers below the Monday – Sunday primetime average.
Fridays, as we said above, were the only night to show improvement vs. last year. The growth was on the strength of the three telecasts of the acquired ULTIMATE FIGHTER series. The Karate Kid, Transformers, and SALT were the top rated weekend movies. They were not able to hold up the movie average vs. last year but did help to show some improvements vs. last month.