A New Channel, FXX, Hopes to Extend the FX Brand

March 28th, 2013

In another sign of a growing appetite for original programming on cable television, a leading cable group is adding a third channel to its lineup and stepping up its commitment to original scripted series.

FX Networks, part of News Corporation, will introduce the FXX cable channel on Sept. 2, executives told advertising agency executives and reporters at an upfront presentation in Midtown Manhattan Thursday morning. The presentation was among dozens that channels, networks and newcomers like Crackle, DirecTV and Participant Media are hosting — many earlier than in previous years — before the start of the 2013-14 television season.

FXX, which will be aimed at viewers ages 18 to 34 (and the marketers that seek to reach them), will join two other channels under the FX Networks umbrella at the Fox Cable Entertainment Group: FX, which is aimed at viewers ages 18 to 49, and FXM, for FX Movie Channel, which was formerly known as Fox Movie Channel, aimed at viewers 25 to 54.

Along with the introduction of FXX, FX Networks will also introduce its own version of TV Everywhere, the shorthand term for efforts to make cable programming available beyond cable television to authenticated subscribers who want to watch shows on devices like smartphones and tablets.

The FX Networks version of TV Everywhere, called FX Now, will carry commercials and include an app and expanded access to content that can be watched on video-on-demand platforms.

Among the other channels rushing to add original series — in pursuit of higher ratings from viewers and more advertising dollars from marketers — are A&E, ABC Family, AMC, BBC America, Bravo, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movie Channel, History, Lifetime, Oxygen, Syfy, TBS, TNT and USA.

The goal is to have viewers and advertisers consider FXX, FX and FXM as “three adult siblings from the same family,” said John Landgraf, president and general manager at FX Networks.

Mr. Landgraf answered an unspoken question: with all the channels already available on cable, why bring out another?

“Consumers need well-defined programming brands as a filter to cut through the clutter,” he said, predicting that the distinct identity that FX has earned through years of cutting-edge programming like “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Damages” and “Rescue Me” would help its new sibling get off the ground.

Across the three channels, there are plans to offer 25 original scripted series over the next three years, he added, likening that scheduling to what can be found on the major broadcast networks of ABC, CBS and NBC.

In fact, Mr. Landgraf said, the intent is to “begin to challenge the broadcast networks,” which he criticized for the sameness of their programming and their efforts to be “all things to all people.”

FXX will begin with three original situation comedies that are moving there from FX, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The League” and “Legit.” Also, a weekly late-night show on FX, “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell,” will expand to a schedule of five nights a week — original episodes from Monday through Thursday and a compilation show on Sunday — when it shifts to FXX.

FXX will schedule a total of four original sitcoms in 2013, Mr. Landgraf said, and six next year, along with original scripted dramas. FXX, like FX, will also carry theatrical movies and reruns of broadcast network series like “Arrested Development” and “Parks and Recreation.”

FX will add more original sitcoms to its lineup of comedy series that currently includes “Archer,” “Louie” and “Wilfred,” he said, as well as more original dramas to join returning drama series like “The Americans,” “Justified” and “Sons of Anarchy.” There will also be more original miniseries and limited series, to join returnees that include “American Horror Story.”

Mr. Landgraf also described plans for original series, both confirmed and in the pilot process, from marquee-name creators and producers like the Coen brothers, who will serve as executive producers of a limited series for FX based on their hit movie “Fargo”; Guillermo del Toro, working on a series, “The Strain,” based on his trilogy of novels about vampires; Paul Giamatti, who will be an executive producer of “Mayflower,” a look at the founding of the Plymouth colony; and Sam Mendes, who will be an executive producer of “Grand Hotel,” about a luxury hotel in Paris attacked by terrorists (and no relation to the famed MGM movie of the same name).

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