FX Chief Wants Fewer Shows Like 'Damages'
Serialized dramas are susceptible to piracy and DVR viewing, says John Landgraf at the HRTS executive panel.
If FX chief John Landgraf had the option today, he wouldn’t dream of green-lighting the acclaimed drama series Damages.
“You’d be crazy to make [a show like that],” Landgraf told an audience gathered for The Hollywood Radio and Television Society's cable chiefs newsmaker luncheon at the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday. It was not a knock on quality, he noted, but rather a commentary on the challenges that technology has presented for the television business. A complex, heavily serialized show like Damages is often better-suited for pirated or DVR viewing, which makes it a struggle to fully monetize.
For every ratings disappointment like Damages on the cable dial, however, there is at least one more Nielsen juggernaut like AMC’s Walking Dead to crow about. In fact, with continued ratings records and a profitable financial model to tout, those running cable networks are, in many ways, the envy of their industry. For that reason, the four panelists -- Landgraf, BET’s Loretha Jones, Showtime’s David Nevins and USA’s Jeff Wachtel -- used the hourlong conversation to argue that the difference between broadcast and cable television is now more philosophical than it is real.
But you shouldn’t expect any of them to start dancing on broadcast’s grave anytime soon. Despite frequent talk about Conan O’Brien’s move to TBS and Oprah Winfrey’s launch of the OWN network being watershed moments for the cable industry, the executives suggested such proclamations were overstated.
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