First American soccer lost its biggest star, British import David Beckham, now it is about to lose its dedicated cable channel. Fox Networks is planning to relaunch its Fox Soccer Channel as an FX-branded entertainment cable network, a sibling to the cable network that airs Sons Of Anarchy, Louie and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Information about the plan, which is in advanced stages and is already being presented to ad buyers to gauge their interest, was reported by Broadcast & Cable and the LA Times. According to sources, the FX offshoot, dubbed FXX, would be geared towards younger viewers with an emphasis on comedy, creating a cable tandem similar to TNT-TBS where TNT is more older-skewing and drama-focused and TBS goes for younger viewers with comedies. Like its big brother FX, FXX would feature original programming, in addition to some repurposed shows and theatrical movies from FX and fellow sibling FX Movie Channel. There is talk about moving some younger-skewing comedy series from FX to FXX to further differentiate the two networks’ identities. Fox has yet to begin talks with MSO and satellite operators about switching Fox Soccer Channel and its 75 million homes to FXX.
The future of the Fox Soccer Channel had been in limbo ever since Fox and ESPN in October lost the rights to the English Premier League to NBC and its fledgling NBC Sports Network. The remaining soccer programming on Fox Soccer Channel is expected to be folded into Fox’s planned national sports cable network, tentatively named Fox Sports 1, that would compete with ESPN. A spokesman for Fox Networks said in a statement, “We are constantly evaluating our programming offerings and this is just one notion we have considered over the past year or so,” declining further comment.