FX Performance/Schedule Analysis - January 2009 - Broadcasting & Cable

FX Performance/Schedule Analysis - January 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of Febnuary 23, 2009)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-34 & Adults 18-49

JANUARY 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

NIP/TUCK, DAMAGES

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

When movies represent nearly 100% of the primetime fare, biggest titles run on Thursdays and Sundays. When originals are on the air bigger movie titles are usually scheduled as lead-ins. When originals are on the air, they tend to run mid-week - Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at 10PM, and bigger movie titles are usually scheduled as lead-ins..

FX was never a network to run multiple encores of its series, a la BRAVO, and it has even given up on running encores on Sunday nights, so each program now gets just one primetime run. However, movie titles tend to run multiple times throughout the month...

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

DECEMBER - JANUARY:

In December FX was between original series, leaving just movies on the air. This month FX brought us NIP/TUCK on Tuesdays and DAMAGES on Wednesdays.

JANUARY:
PREMIERES:
**January 6 @ 10PM: NIP/TUCK (5TH Season)
**January 7 @ 10: DAMAGES (13 eps, 2ND Season)

FINALES:
** NONE

MARCH AND BEYOND:
PREMIERES:
** April 7 '09: RESCUE ME (22 eps, 5th Season)

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:

A year ago, FX was taking full advantage of the fact that it had high quality originals ready to air, just as the broadcast networks were being forced into repeats by The Writers' Guild strike. After that, FX also ran out of originals, and went into a slump. The good news this month is that FX is back, with numbers that are basically on par with last year's, achieving the best ratings it has had in eleven months. Compared to last year's ratings performance, FX is even on households, down nine percent on men 18-49 and up 10% on women 18-49.

NIP/TUCK was on the air in both January '08 and '09. In '08 the program was in mid-season, while it has just premiered this January, after nearly a year off the air. Happily, the ratings are strong. Last year the movie lead-ins were often topping NIP/TUCK. This year it is the dominant force on the line-up. Ratings for the Tuesday night premiere episodes were up by +13% on households, +27% on men 18-49 and +5% on women 18-49. Notably, FX has dropped the Sunday night encore, and replaced it with movies. While this strategy helps the short-term ratings average (movies do much better than drama encores), it does limit the exposure, presence and aura of the "FX original."

DAMAGES was also back on the air this month on Wednesday nights. The program does well with women, not so much with men. Wednesday night ratings were down -29% for men 18-49 and up b +26% for women 18-49.

But the primary reason for the slip in male viewing was not DAMAGES, it was the stronger movie titles in '08. Multiple runs each of Batman Begins, SWAT, Fantastic Four and Terminator topped the men 18-49 charts last year, while this year's top rated men 18-49 titles (The Rundown, Superman Returns, The Green Mile) couldn't match up.

JANUARY 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Compared to last month, FX' bottom-line ratings are up +7% for households, +12% for men 18-49 and up just +2% for women 18-49. While FX targets the younger viewers, this month has seen better growth among the 25-54 set, with an 18% jump in people 25-54 ratings. With this growth, 18-49 ratings no longer top the 25-54 ratings. Men 18-49 and 25-54 bottom-line ratings are identical, and women 25-54 ratings are .02 points higher than women 18-49.

In fact, the median age of the network's primetime audience is dangerously close to 40. It is the second oldest audience we've seen since we've been tracking these things (2006). The oldest FX audience was back in August 2007. So what do these two months have in common? The premiere of DAMAGES. On the negative side the program seems to turn away the men and bring in the older women, but the positives are star power, high quality production and critical accolades. FX has said they stand behind the program 100%. Does this mean star power and quality trump an older audience, or does it mean it's now okay to attract older women?

But we're jumping ahead and digressing. Let's take a look at the night-by-night performance to see what else was going on this month at FX.

Monday night typically underperforms, and this month was no exception. Monday night movies produced the lowest rated night for women. Men 18-49 and 25-54 took nice increases over last month (+15% and +40%), led by League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, putting Monday as the second lowest rated night among men.

The third Tuesday of the month brought us a new season of NIP/TUCK. As discussed above, the program is back and bigger than ever. The two NIP/TUCK telecasts were the top rated for the month, and they helped pull Tuesday up as the best-rated night of the week. Compared to December, Tuesday was up +61% among men 18-49 and +18% for women 18-49. (Tuesdays also skew younger, successfully targeting the younger audiences).

Wednesday is DAMAGES night on FX. Compared to December, male ratings were down -18% while women 18-49 were up by +38% and women 25-54 were up by +46%. The program dropped quite a bit of audience week to week, and from its movie lead-ins.

Thursday's movies brought in some more men (+6%) and lost some women (-16%). It remains the youngest night of the week,

THAT "70s SHOW was back on a couple of Fridays, and movies ran the gamut from chick-flicks (Devil Wears Prada) to kids' stuff (Ice Age 2) to A Few Good Men (a class of its own). The bottom-line result? Friday is still among the lowest-rated nights of the week, but numbers are up over +20% on 18-49 demos and +40% on 25-54 demos vs. December.

The weekend was also wall-to-wall movies, and the numbers lived or died by the titles selected to hit the air. Three of the top-rated titles aired on Sundays - The Devil Wears Prada, The Green Mile, and the FX sure-fire hit, Mr. And Mrs. Smith.

ACQUISITIONS:

Acquisitions are all about movie packages on FX. They are a key player in the movie after-market, going after male-skewing, edgy titles.

In early 2009, FX made a deal with Paramount Pictures on a multiple movie title package covering Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Most of the movies were 2008 releases and will be available to FX by the beginning of 2010. Transformers will be available at the end of 2011. Other package titles consist of Cloverfield, Tropic Thunder, Eagle Eye and Beowulf plus a few other smaller films.

In 2008 the net got more aggressive about purchasing big packages, many of them done as pre-buys. For the most part, the movies are adult, edgy titles or comic-book fare (Spiderman, Hulk, Fantastic Four).

The following lists past theatrical acquisitions that include movie titles that have not yet started airing:
It was announced in October 2008 that FX purchased the cable rights to three 20th Century Fox movies: Max Payne, The X-Files: I Want to Believe and The Rocker. FX paid an estimated $8 million for a four-year term that begins in late 2010/early 2011.

In June, 2008 it was announced FX would pay approximately $11 million for the exclusive cable network-window rights to air the Sony film You Don't Mess With the Zohan starring Adam Sandler. FX's window opens in 2010 following the exclusive pay-TV run on Starz.

On March 25 a $115 million+ Universal deal was announced. The deal comprises most of the titles on Universal's 2008 slate; about 15 titles, many of which are prebuys. Titles include The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Leatherheads. Other titles in the FX package include Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Deathrace, Baby Mama, The Express, Changeling and The Strangers, Jarhead, Definitely Maybe, Doomsday (Rogue Pictures), Eastern Promises and In Bruges (Focus Features). The FX window kicks in about 28-30 months after the theatrical release, with the first of the bunch available summer 2010.

The Sony Columbia Pictures package also includes prebuys to five unreleased titles, which are Vantage Point starring Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox, The Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogan, Step Brothers starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, 21 starring Kevin Spacey and The International starring Clive Owen. According to Variety, the deal also includes these three other released films: Walk Hard, Untraceable and We Own the Night. FX is scheduled to air the featured films within about 28 months of their debut in theaters and pay-per-view channels.

Marvel has struck a deal with FX for the TV rights to Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and three others in another pre-buy arrangement.

FX paid $55 million for the exclusive network-window rights to five theatrical movies from 20th Century Fox:  The Simpsons Movie, Live Free or Die Hard, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Death Sentence and Hitman. The movies become available to FX in fourth quarter 2009, after their pay TV runs on HBO. The movies are all consistent with FX's male-oriented programming strategy.

Other deals include Columbia's Spider-Man 3, Superbad and Ghost Rider and Disney's Wild Hogs.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

RESCUE ME (Drama) Original series
A 22-episode fifth season will premiere April 7th, (and finale on 9/8) and an 18-episode sixth season was pre-emptively ordered in February '09. .

SONS OF ANARCHY (Drama) Original series
Renewed for a full 13-episode second season.

DAMAGES (Drama) Original series
Picked up for two more 13-episode seasons. (the first of these seasons is currently on-air).

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (Comedy) Original series
39 additional episodes ordered, to air through 2011.

NIP/TUCK (Drama) Original series
22 episodes in production, 14 more have been ordered, for a total of 100 episodes. Its last season will be in 2011.

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

THIRTY DAYS, the network's only reality show, was cancelled after three seasons

THE RICHES will not return for another season, with disappointing ratings cited as the culprit.

DIRT has not been picked up for the second half of its second season. (Just 7 of the 13 ordered episodes were produced, due to problems encountered from the Writers' Strike. Those 7 episodes performed well below the first season.)

THE SHIELD's last season premiered on Tuesday, September 2.

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING:

None.

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