This interview in Broadcasting & Cable with the President-General Manager of FX Networks makes the point that if you took away the sports franchises from FX’s major competition (like TNT, TBS and USA), their overall 18-49 average would be within shouting range of FX’s territory. Only problem is that no major sports franchise is currently available, and even if one were FX might not be able to afford it. So, what’s the point again?
There is only one thing FX Networks President-General Manager John Landgraf doesn’t have that could afford his network a shot at challenging his basic cable rivals for the top of the ratings chart: sports.
“I’d love to have a major sports franchise,” Landgraf says. “It’s just a question of which one, and how do you make the economics work? If you look at FX versus TNT to date, we’re up 5%; they’re probably up 4% or 5%. But look at them without sports. Entertainment to entertainment, they’re down 7%; we’re up 5.”
FX has a strong history in highly rated original series and a pipeline of new development ready to be tapped, but originals don’t really move the needle, Landgraf says. FX can maintain its perch as the fifth-highest-rated basic cable network in core demos with its current strategy, but if the network is going to move up, it needs wrestling, playoff baseball, a Thursday package of NFL games, a NASCAR package—something. FX parent News Corp. looked at the Bowl Championship Series college football playoffs, with one scenario putting it on FX, but that didn’t pan out.
“It’s going to be virtually impossible for FX to ever challenge TNT, TBS or USA without sports,” Landgraf says.
“Look at their average number of adults 18-49 per hour in prime,” he continues. “We’re at about 750,000 on average year-to-date. We’ll finish the year in the 700s, just as we have the last three years. I can see with our current strategy being in the 800s at some point. TNT and USA are getting incremental 100,000 or 150,000 on average in prime out of sports. No channel is getting anywhere near 1 million adults 18-49, 21 hours a week, 365 days a year, without sports. It’s not going to happen.”
Right now, FX has no plans underway to acquire a major sports property. If one becomes available, the question for the network is whether it can acquire sports in a way that would be profitable, according to Landgraf. “There are a lot of guys at News Corp., from David Hill and Ed Goren to Chase Carey and Tony [Vinciquerra], who know a heck of a lot more about the sports business than I do. So, it’s not going to be my decision,” he says. “It’s a very, very big business decision to go after a major sports package, and it’s not going to be made at my level. I’ll be consulted along the way, but it will be made for big, strategic reasons.”
via Broadcasting & Cable.