FX to Launch New Network for the 18-34 Set, FXX

Channel will inherit FX comedies; new SVOD strategy takes aim at Netflix

FX this fall will launch a sibling network designed to reach younger viewers. Set to bow Sept. 2, the new FXX service will assume the channel slot presently occupied by Fox Soccer.

At launch, FXX is expected to reach some 74 million homes.

The comedy-leaning spin-off will kick off with a quartet of FX originals: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell (which will expand from a weekly to a nightly show) and the recently renewed Legit.

Sunny has been picked up for a 10th season while The League has earned a pair of renewals that will bring it to a sixth campaign.

FX Networks president John Landgraf said that the new channel would expand to six originals in the coming months.

While FX primes the pump for its new ad-supported network, the flagship has locked in a slate of originals for 2013-14. The previously announced Diane Kruger mystery The Bridge will premiere in July, while Season 2 of the hit spy drama The Americans will come in from the cold next January. Louis CK ends his self-imposed hiatus in May 2014, and veteran series Sons of Anarchy and Justified also have had their respective runs extended.

Also in the works is American Horror Story: Coven, the third installment in Ryan Murphy’s creepy, kooky anthology series. AHS bows in October.

Studded through with bold-face names, the FX development slate is particularly promising. Ang Lee will direct the pilot for Middle East drama Tyrant, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind writer Charlie Kaufman will write a half-hour comedy pilot, How & Why. Production on the Guillermo del Toro/Carlton Cuse bloodsucker project, The Strain, begins this summer, while Joel and Ethan Coen’s adaptation of their 1996 theatrical, Fargo, takes flight at the end of the year.

On the acquisitions front, while FX picked up Mike & Molly on the cheap, Landgraf also wants to see how much broad comedy FX can produce for itself. The network is also opting to rerun Anger Management, which has a much more fast-paced, broadcast-style production schedule than its other series.

FX’s over-the-top strategy is notably unique and aggressive. The upcoming FXNOW is an on-demand service that will offer an extensive lineup of FX originals, with a commercial load designed to mirror the linear content during the C3 window. Once the guaranteed period expires, the on-demand spot load will diminish to 10 30-second ads per program. Like HBO GO, FXNOW will be authenticated. “Flexibility is privilege extended to the customers of our valuable distribution partners,” said Bruce Lefkowitz, evp, ad sales, FX Networks.

Additionally, the deals FX has negotiated with its movie partners are exclusive. That means that when Thor goes to FXNOW, you can kiss it goodbye on Netflix. That goes for the rest of the slate, too—any time a film gets a window on FXNOW, it disappears from Amazon.com and any other competitor.

The FX Movie Channel is also getting a serious facelift, borrowing a leaf or two from the HBO playbook: the 10-episode Fargo miniseries will air on that channel, and several other big-league movie personalities are working on closed-ended projects for FXMC. In development: Sam Mendes’ Paris-set drama Grand Hotel; Sutton, from Alexander Payne; and Paul Giamatti’s take on the voyage of the Mayflower.

The Thursday morning breakfast marked FX’s first formal upfront event and featured presentations by Landgraf, Fox Cable ad sales president Lou LaTorre and Lefkowitz. The cutdowns for the new shows were interspersed with words of praise from the talent, including a dig at network brass from animated superspy (and endearingly fatuous jerk) Sterling Archer. “Yeah, FX is the place to be,” muttered the cartoon super-spy (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin). “I thought the place to be was in my suite in Monte Carlo, but then ‘Lasagna’ Lou LaTorre was kind enough to remind me of my contract.”

And, speaking of humor, everybody on the Internet immediately made this joke when the FXX moniker was announced: