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.

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Meg James meg.james@la­times.com

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.

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