FX to offer an ad-free channel via Comcast
Patrons of the cable service will be able to access FX+ for an extra $5.99 a month.
FX Networks announced Monday that it is launching FX+, a commercial-free channel that will be available to Comcast Corp. Xfinity subscribers beginning Sept. 5.
FX Networks long has been known for edgy programming, but that distinction has become difficult to maintain amid fierce competition from streaming services.
Streaming services have gained an advantage, particularly among younger viewers, because their shows are available commercialfree. That is something that the ad-supported cable channels FX and FXX, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s media company 21st Century Fox, have been unable to do — until now.
For an extra $5.99 a month, Comcast Xfinity customers will be able to receive the FX+ video-on-demand platform with up-todate episodes of FX’s original programming, including “American Horror Story,” “Fargo,” “The Americans,” FXX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and older FX titles such as “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck.”
“This initiative represents the first of its kind for an ad-supported cable network, and begins to put us on equal footing with premium networks and streaming services,” John Landgraf, FX Networks’ chief executive, said in a statement.
The move will enable FX to test whether consumers would pay for a stand-alone FX channel. The effort also could generate higher viewership for FX programs by giving audiences an easy way to catch up on past episodes, binge-view an entire season or sample a new series or one they might have missed when it was on TV.
“We’ve seen, in some instances, that customers would pay an extra $3 to watch an episode of a TV program commercial free,” said Matt Strauss, Comcast’s general manager for video and entertainment services.
Comcast, based in Philadelphia, has been a leader among pay-TV companies in offering entertainment options that occasionally defy industry conventions.
The FX effort is similar to an ad-free basic cable channel that Comcast offers with AMC programming. However FX+ will have a more expansive catalog, with complete seasons of numerous shows.
FX and Comcast have been discussing ways to showcase FX’s programming for nearly two years, Strauss said.
Both companies view the partnership as an experiment. FX could eventually offer an ad-free channel in conjunction with other payTV companies, such as Charter Communications or AT&T’s DirecTV, or as a stand-alone streaming service such as HBO Now.