FX is going commercial free — at least for Comcast subscribers.
The cable network is prepping the Sept. 5 launch of a new streaming service, FX+, that will offer ad-free viewing of current FX and FXX shows as well as on-demand viewing of a library of programming. The service will be available as a $6-per-month add-on for people who already subscribe to FX through Comcast's Xfinity television packages.
FX+ will offer In-season stacking rights for all 17 current FX and FXX original series — including Atlanta, American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Fargo, Feud, Legion and You're the Worst. In addition, it will offer the complete catalog for 16 current and legacy FX originals including Damages, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Nip/Tuck and Sons of Anarchy. The shows will roll out on the service in the weeks after its launch, with the goal of making all of the more than 1,000 episodes of programming available in 2018.
FX Networks president John Landgraf noted in a statement that the company has been working to regain the in-season stacking rights for its current original programming, as well as the full-season rights to its library of programming. "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," he added.
This marks the second such add-on service that Comcast has introduced to its Xfinity subscribers. In June, the telecom giant announced plans to offer a $5-per-month upgrade called AMC Premiere, that would offer up current programs such as The Walking Dead without advertisements. While the FX service focuses on providing complete access to the network's library, the AMC offering included bonus scenes, interviews with the cast and other extras.
Matt Strauss, executive vp and general manager of video and entertainment services at Comcast Cable, explains to THR that the company is hoping services such FX+ and AMC Premiere help respond to consumers' changing viewing habits. "Over the past decade, there's been a fairly sizable paradigm shift where more and more video consumption is happening on a time shifting basis," he notes. "We've always been big believers in giving customers the ability to watch what they want, when they want. In a given year, we generate well over 4 billion hours of on-demand usage on our platform. There's no going back, this is technology that is well integrated into viewing behavior."
Comcast worked closely with FX to create FX+, Strauss says. "The quality of their programming and the passion index for their network lends them to this service," he says, adding that he would expect a new network launching in 2017 "would, in many ways, look like FX+." The telecom doesn't have an exclusive deal with the network, meaning that FX could eventually make FX+ available on other platforms.
Strauss notes that Comcast is talking with other networks about offering similar services, which Comcast could some day sell as add-ons for subscribers to its forthcoming Xfinity Instant TV service, a streaming television bundle that will cater to cord cutters. "We're an aggregator," he says. "We want to make all choices available in one place because choice is value. It gives viewers control over how they want to enjoy their content."
FX Networks scored 55 Emmy nominations this year for shows including Feud: Bette and Joan, Fargo and Atlanta. The more than 17 million Comcast subscribers who currently subscribe to FX would be eligible to upgrade to the new FX+ service, which will be available Sept. 5 via Xfinity On Demand, the Xfinity Stream app and website, and the FXNow TV everywhere app. The network plans to offer some programs in 4K and temporary downloads of current season episodes in the future.