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/October and January/February. 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.
NOVEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2012 vs. November 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
November 2012: November is typically a strong month for FX, and 2012 was no exception. Original programming was running on three nights of the week, four if you count UFC. Ratings for both men and women were near the year’s peak. However, female audiences were bigger both last year and last month. Male ratings were slightly better than last year and slightly lower than last month.
Even with the original programming in place, movies continue to drive FX’s bottom line ratings. Originals can move the needle and drive more audiences to the theatricals, but with just 12 hours of airtime, the programming would have to be exceptional to really make an impact on the bottom line average.
If there was an exceptional program, it would be SONS OF ANARCHY. The program sits above all other FX shows and above most of cable as well. Its adult 18-49 ratings for the month were 65% better than AMERICAN HORROR STORY, 200% better than SUNNY, 300% better than LEAGUE, nearly 400% better than ULTIMATE FIGHTER and about 450% better than the movie average. Add to that the fact that it is the most DVR’d program on cable with a 134% season to date uplift (Rentrak). So far it is holding vs. last month’s average and is up by 15% vs. last year’s men 18-49 numbers.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY is not as clear-cut a winner. It was back last month with big numbers and lots of press releases, clearly hitting a cultural vein with women. This month it was off the pace. A lot can be blamed on the movie lead-ins, and also a poor turn-out on Wednesday the 21st, Thanksgiving Eve. Until that point the show was gaining audience week to week.
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and THE LEAGUE are holding up comedy night Thursdays this month. Both programs are up by about 10% with core men 18-49 vs. October, but down about 10% vs. last year. Lead-in programming certainly has a hand in this. Last year a two-hour block of a still solid TWO AND A HALF MEN led into the original comedies. This year movies start out the night, and the movies aren’t always a great comedic fit (Step Brothers, Easy A).
As discussed above, movies are truly the backbone, if not the heart of FX. This month holiday themed theatricals and kids titles started to kick in, with Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon and Christmas With The Kranks on the air multiple times. FX favorites Twilight, Predators, Spiderman and X-Men were out in full force as well.