It’s Champagne time for the latest cable network to rebrand and relaunch. 21st Century Fox’s male-skewing FXX took the place of Fox Soccer Channel on Sept. 3, and in that time has managed to add 12.7 million subs, elevate its ratings to a 58,000-viewer average (a year ago it wasn’t a third of that) and start building a brand.
Millennial men, said Horizon Media’s research guru Brad Adgate, still rate among the most desirable and elusive demographics on TV, and FXX’s median age is an impressive 34.5. “Putting out another entertainment network kind of mirrors what Turner is doing with TBS and TNT,” observed Adgate. “The first month, all things considered, is pretty respectable. It’s getting a huge spike in subscriber counts, and it’s getting more acquired and original series.”
The number of networks that have tried to reach young men with scripted comedy is large, while the number that have secured respectable ratings doing so is not. The goal, after all, is to increase share, not just to move viewers around. But The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (and, as of next season, Wilfred) were among FX’s biggest comedies, and with those programs anchoring the new network, it actually stands a fighting chance of succeeding where others have failed.
In any case, if the scripted content doesn’t work, the parade of jokey reality shows on Spike and TruTV proves that one can stay in business and retain stable viewer bases. There’s little doubt it would work on FXX, too, if needed.