FX Analysis - November 2010 - Broadcasting & Cable

FX Analysis - November 2010

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NOVEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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 conversation and the branding, but movies still 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 original over the course of the summer. When originals are on the air they tend to run mid-week, Monday through Thursday, and always at 10PM for content reasons.

This September, FX added TWO AND A HALF MEN to the primetime line-up; the first time an acquired off-net comedy has regularly run in primetime in a few years (THAT '70s SHOW was once a Friday night staple). The program is not run as a strip, but is primarily used in two-hour blocks on Thursdays and Saturdays. TWO AND A HALF MEN also runs in daytime / early fringe along with some other acquired sitcoms (MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, THE BERNIE MAC SHOW).

NOVEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2010 vs. November 2009  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

W18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-6%

0%

-16%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-8%

-11%

-4%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-22%

-16%

-38%

Thursday 8-11pm

9%

1%

2%

Friday 8-11pm

16%

16%

-4%

Saturday 8-11pm

54%

12%

59%

Sunday 8-11pm

--5%

-16%

10%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

1%

-5%

0%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

NOVEMBER 2010: FX's ratings this month rebounded from October with impressive gains: 28% growth on households; 39% growth on men 18-49 and 24% growth on women 18-49. Compared to last November the ratings growth was not really there...bottom line was basically flat.

The star of the month was undoubtedly SONS OF ANARCHY. In its third season the program is another FX icon, drawing top ratings for the net, and usually placing number one in all of cable on Tuesday nights. The program grew its core men 18-49 ratings just a bit vs. October (+4%), but lost 16% of those ratings vs. last year. Still, it was the rallying point for the rest of the line-up. Every program showed gains vs. last month.

Overall, movies grew by double digits, with and Mr. and Mrs. Smith drawing top adult 18-49 ratings.

On Wednesdays, TERRIERS improved vs. last month, but it wasn't enough to rescue the program from cancellation. The program has been at the bottom of the ratings rankers since its launch. For its 13-episode run TERRIERS averaged 690,000 total viewers and 359,000 adults 18-49, according to press releases from FX. The program was an attempt at a less edgy show by FX standards, but apparently it didn't have enough bite to stick.

Thursdays are half-hour comedy night. TWO AND A HALF MEN runs from eight to ten, followed by SUNNY and THE LEAGUE. In its third month on FX, TWO AND A HALF MEN improved ratings performance over last month by 32% among adults 18-49. SUNNY pulled in 30% better numbers and THE LEAGUE was 38% better. Not too shabby! Last year FX's Thursday night comedy line-up really took off, and so comparisons to November 2009 show slight drops (-8% and -4%).

With even less broadcast competition in December, FX should be able to finish out the year on a programming high.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

FX is back in full force this fall, with more non-theatrical programming in primetime than....ever? Despite all the new efforts and record-setting ratings, bottom-line audience was actually down vs. last year, but was finally able to catch up in November. But FX is all about image. Despite the fact that the vast majority of its programming is acquired theatricals, it is branded as an edgy producer of original programming. And despite the fact that it is a cable network, it prefers comparisons to broadcast, therefore launching its biggest and best right in the middle of the broadcast network's biggest season.

The cachet and prestige garnered from the success of SONS OF ANARCHY is enough to keep the FX brand in tact.

Comedy is the growth area at FX. The network is on record that they plan to carry six to eight comedies in the future, and that a dozen originals in total would be their max. That means comedies will be at least half of the originals line-up.

What are they looking for in comedy? "What we want to do with comedies is very much what we did with dramas," said John Landgraf, FX President. "Put shows on the air that are really smart, really edgy and distinctive."  Good writing that helps showcase the star of the program is also essential to the originals brand on FX.

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