EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, FX Networks has landed off-network rights to hit Fox animated series Family Guy, starting with its 16th (2017-18) season. Beginning next week, Seth MacFarlane’s pop culture phenom will air on the comedy-focused FXX network, joining another blockbuster off-network animated series, The Simpsons.
In a corporate synergy move, the FX network will be sharing Family Guy reruns with new sibling Freeform, which will get small portion of the usage. Family Guy will debut on FXX April 16, airing 5 hours three days a week; its premiere on Freeform will be April 17, airing an hourlong block once a week, on Wednesday. On FXX, Family Guy will air Tuesday (9-11 PM), Thursday (12-1 AM) and Sunday (7-9 PM), paired with The Simpsons, marking the first time the two classic animated comedies have aired together off-network.
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Starting in the fall, FXX will offer repeat episodes of all three long-running series of Fox’s Sunday animated block as FX Networks also has made an off-network deal for Bob’s Burgers, starting with the current ninth season. (The older seasons of both Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers remain on Turner’s Adult Swim/TBS for the time being.) The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers — all produced by 20th Century Fox TV — will be accompanied on the FXX schedule by the network’s hit original animated series Archer, whose library also is owned by FX. As of fall 2019, FXX will be running Seasons 16 and 17 of Family Guy; adding a new season every year and more hours a week until fall 2021 when FXX will become the exclusive cable network home of all previous seasons of the irreverent comedy with a carveout for Freeform. Bob’s Burgers‘ complete library will be controlled by FX starting a couple of year later. (Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers are currently renewed though 2019-20, Seasons 18 and 10, respectively, but both are fully expected to continue beyond that.)
FX Networks landed full library rights (including digital) to The Simpsons in 2013 in a ground-breaking deal expected to reach a billion dollars as the venerable series continues to produce new seasons (it was recently renewed by Fox for Seasons 31 and 32.)
In light of the success of The Simpsons, which was a game-changer for FXX, boosting the viewership of then-newly rebranded network, FX Networks had been on a lookout for more off-network adult animation fare, zeroing in on Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers, which have proven their compatibility with The Simpsons on Fox.
Older episodes of Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers currently air on Turner’s Adult Swim, which shares them with corporate sibling TBS. The deals cover the first 15 seasons of Family Guy and the first eight seasons of Bob’s Burgers, which will move to FXX once those pacts expire. When rights to the newer seasons of both shows became available, FX Networks jumped at the opportunity. Unlike The Simpsons rights, which were all-encompassing, the Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers deals are said to include only limited online play; the streaming rights to both shows are owned by Hulu.
Family Guy was the first to come down the pike, with FXX getting access to the 20-episode 16th season immediately. By the time FX Networks recently closed the deal for the rights to the show, the company became part of Disney under the recent $71.3 billion acquisition. There was interest from Freeform, which a couple weeks ago announced a foray into animation, to get a shared window. That is common practice among corporate siblings, especially when they cater to very different audiences, which is the case with FXX and Freeform.
This marks the first time a network from the Disney and a network from the Fox side of the company are sharing a show since the merger.
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