FX books 'League' ads

Bud parent, DirecTV play in fantasy games

With little more to pitch than an early draft of a shooting script, FX senior vp national ad sales Michael Brochstein has sold a pair of season-length ad integrations to Anheuser-Busch and DirecTV for "The League," the network's new original comedy series.

Per terms of their respective deals -- the value of which neither FX nor the advertisers would disclose -- A-B and DirecTV will be woven into the narrative of "League," an ensemble comedy about a group of fantasy-football enthusiasts. Both brands will appear throughout the six-episode run, which kicks off next month, leading out of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" at 10:30 p.m. Thursdays.

A-B is no stranger to FX -- it was among the first sponsors to commit to gritty cop drama "The Shield" –– but Brochstein said the early look-in was almost unprecedented.

"This is a unique situation because we were giving them a look while the show was still in the early stages of development," he said, adding that the integrations were written into the pilot before the series was greenlighted. "Contextually, it was a no-brainer, but we also limited their risk. They walked into it with a great incumbency."

There are two party scenes in the pilot, giving characters ample opportunity to hoist Budweiser bottles. That said, FX Prods. was careful to avoid any overt "beauty shots" like full-frontal label placement.

"League" marks the first DirecTV integration on FX, and while viewers aren't likely to overlook the placement, it's of a piece with the show's semi-improvised dialogue -- a stew of pop culture associations and compulsory ball-busting. (In a rough cut of the pilot, Paul Scheer's bachelor lords over his married pals, crowing about his "65-inch LED TV with DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket and SuperFan Package.")

"You have guys watching football, having a few cold ones and giving each other a hard time," Brochstein said. "With a fit like that, you don't have to do anything contrived."

Last year, FX took in $368.8 million in net ad revenue, a boost of 8.2% from 2007, SNL Kagan said.