FX Networks CEO John Landgraf got a lot of attention today with his “there is simply too much television” comments at TCA, predicting that the rise in the number of original scripted series will reach a peak in the next two years before starting to decline. For FX Networks, that time has come. FX and FXX currently have 20 original scripted series combined. Landgraf told Deadline that would be the highest the networks would go. He expects they would stay at or close to that number for the foreseeable future.
The 20 tally is short of the plan Landgraf had laid out before for 24 original series. That included 10-90 comedies and late-night talk shows, areas that the network has exited for good. (FXX is not abandoning late-night altogether, it has been experimenting with animation from Fox’s Animation Domination unit, and is looking to make the weekly late-night block a permanent fixture.)
FX Networks had to stop at 20 original scripted series despite Landgraf’s best intentions to go to 24. “We did everything right – we have a portfolio of multiple channels, we launched FXNow, we did renegotiate our affiliate deals early and got big fees, bringing our reliance on advertising down from 58% to 32%, we more than doubled our profits, we own virtually all of our programming, we are part of a big conglomerate with international footprint and sports networks — and I still had to scale back,” he said.
Landgraf envisions the future of FX as a mix of linear and non-liner service. He expects advertising’s portion as percentage of the company’s overall revenue to continue to slide down until the amount of advertising — now probably too much, in his opinion — is acceptable to viewers who don’t want to pay for an ad-free delivery.
FX Networks’ expansion is over not only in volume but also in genres. The company has no plans to be adding unscripted fare or sports. “We are networks for original scripted programming,” Landgraf said.