FX (TV channel)
FX is an American pay television channel owned by the Walt Disney Television unit of The Walt Disney Company through FX Networks, LLC. It is based at the 20th Century Fox lot in Century City, California. Originally launched on June 1, 1994, the network's original programming aspires to the standards of premium cable channels such as HBO, Showtime, and Starz in regard to mature themes and content, high-quality writing, directing and acting, and sister channels such as FXX, FXM, and Freeform. FX also carries reruns of theatrical films and terrestrial-network sitcoms, and advertising-free content is available through the FX+ premium subscription service.
|Launched||June 1, 1994|
|Owned by||Walt Disney Television |
(The Walt Disney Company)
|Picture format||720p HDTV|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Formerly called||fX (1994–1997)|
Channel 1248 (VOD)
|Dish Network||Channel 136|
|Available on every cable systems||Channel slots vary on each provider|
|Verizon FiOS||Channel 53 (SD)|
Channel 553 (HD)
|AT&T U-verse||Channel 129 (SD)|
Channel 1129 (HD)
|PlayStation Vue||Internet Protocol television|
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
|YouTube TV||Internet Protocol television|
As of July 2015, FX is available to approximately 94,006,000 pay television households (80.8% of households with at least one television set) in the United States. In addition to the flagship U.S. network, the "FX" name is licensed to a number of related pay television channels in various countries around the world.
1994–97: Early years
FX, originally stylized as "fX", launched on June 1, 1994. Broadcasting from a large "apartment" in Manhattan's Flatiron District, fX was one of the first forays into large-scale interactive television. The channel centered on original programming, which was broadcast live every day from the "fX Apartment," and rebroadcasts of classic television shows from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Eight Is Enough, Nanny and the Professor and The Green Hornet. fX had two taglines during this period: "TV Made Fresh Daily" and "The World's First Living Television Network". The "f" in the channel's name and logo was rendered in lower-case to portray a type of relaxed friendliness; the stylized "X" represented the channel's roots: the crossing searchlights of the 20th Century Fox logo.
The live shows were each mostly focused on one broad topic. Shows included Personal fX (collectibles and antiques), The Pet Department (pets), Under Scrutiny with Jane Wallace (news) and Sound fX (music). The channel's flagship show, Breakfast Time, hosted by Laurie Hibberd and Tom Bergeron, was formatted like an informal magazine show and was an Americanized version of Great Britain's The Big Breakfast. Breakfast Time and Personal fX would regularly feature the channel's "roving reporters" – which included Suzanne Whang, John Burke and Phil Keoghan – visiting unique places around the United States live via satellite. Other notable fX personalities included Karyn Bryant and Orlando Jones, who were panelists on Sound fX.
The channel prided itself on its interactivity with viewers. fX, in 1994, was an early adopter of the internet, embracing e-mail and the World Wide Web as methods of feedback. Most of the shows would feature instant responses to e-mailed questions, and one show, Backchat (hosted by Jeff Probst), was exclusively devoted to responding to viewer mail, whether sent through e-mail or traditional postal mail. Select viewers were allowed to spend a day at the "apartment" and take part in all of the channel's shows. Inside the channel's syndicated programming blocks, channel hosts would frequently appear during commercial breaks to read news headlines, respond to e-mails from viewers about the episode that was airing, or to promote upcoming programming.
The first incarnation of fX was not available on Time Warner Cable, one of the major cable systems in New York City, where its programming originated. TWC would not carry the channel until September 2001.
The live shows gradually disappeared one by one until only Personal fX remained. Breakfast Time was moved to the Fox network and renamed Fox After Breakfast in mid-1996. It underwent several format changes, but never found a substantial audience and was canceled less than a year later. By the time that all live programming (with the exception of Personal fX) was dropped, the channel focused entirely on its classic television shows until its relaunch in mid-1997. Personal fX remained on the refocused FX until May 1, 1998. FX vacated the "apartment" in the summer of 1998 and the channel's operations were streamlined with the other Fox-owned subscription channels.
1997–2001: Fox Gone Cable
In early 1997, fX was relaunched as "FX: Fox Gone Cable", refocusing the channel's target audience towards men aged 18 to 49. During the first few years after its relaunch, FX was known for little else than airing reruns of such Fox shows as The X-Files and Married... with Children, as well as 20th Century Fox-produced shows such as M*A*S*H and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The channel also added Major League Baseball games to its lineup at that time (at one point sharing rights with then-sister network Fox Family), and eventually expanded its sports programming to include NASCAR races in 2001.
In the summer of 1998, FX debuted three original series: Bobcat's Big Ass Show, Instant Comedy with the Groundlings and Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular. All three series were cancelled the following year. Soon after its relaunch, the "Fox Gone Cable" tagline was dropped. By 1999, new original TV shows were added with the debut of shows such as Son of the Beach (a Baywatch parody that starred Timothy Stack and was executive produced by Howard Stern) and The X Show (a male-oriented late night panel talk show). The channel also acquired the pay-TV syndication rights to reruns of series such as Ally McBeal, NYPD Blue and The Practice for then-record high prices then unseen in the pay-TV industry despite all three 20th Century Fox Television series being under common ownership; when these shows expensively fumbled in primetime, FX predominantly ran movies in its more high-profile time periods, though with the move of premiere film rights from free-to-air to pay television, FX unexpectedly would end up a benefactor of this change.
2002–07: Emergence in original programming
Beginning in 2002, the channel emerged as a major force in original pay-TV programming, gaining both acclaim and notoriety for edgy dramas. That year, FX debuted the police drama The Shield, which became a breakout hit. This trend continued the following year with Nip/Tuck, a drama about two plastic surgeons, and the Denis Leary-helmed Rescue Me, about the lives of a crew of firemen from the New York City Fire Department post-9/11. Both shows were lauded by critics, and achieved equal success with viewers. Rescue Me was one of the few television series to be given an order for an additional season prior to the broadcast of its most recent season: in June 2009 FX renewed the show for an 18-episode sixth season, although the fifth season had not premiered at the time.
Unlike many broadcast networks, FX has chosen to take risks with its programming and push the envelope of what can be shown on television; as a result, most (though not all) of the channel's original programming are assigned TV-MA ratings, often for strong profanity, sexual and/or violent content. Family organizations such as the Parents Television Council and American Family Association, have asked advertisers to boycott these shows due to their graphic content. Despite this, FX's original programming output, outside of a few shows, has been critically acclaimed for their strong storylines and characters.
Capitalizing on the success of the hit documentary Super Size Me, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock launched a new series, 30 Days, which debuted on FX in June 2005. The series place its subjects in situations uncomfortable to them for 30 days, such as making millionaires work for minimum wage, and having Christians live in a Muslim community.
In the summer of 2005, FX debuted two new comedy series, Starved, about the daily lives of four friends with eating disorders who live in New York City; and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, about the usually very politically incorrect comic misadventures of four people who own a bar in the titular city. Both of these shows feature frank sexual dialogue and strong language, and were pitched as "The Dark Side of Comedy." Starved was derided by groups that sought to publicize eating disorders and was cancelled after its first season due to low ratings. Conversely, Sunny quickly became a critical darling, consistently achieved high viewership, and was picked up for a second season within days of its first-season finale. Fox aired an edited version of Sunny for a three-episode run in the summer of 2006, in an effort to further promote the series.
In 2006, FX debuted two new series, the reality series Black. White. and the drama Thief; neither series was picked up for a second season. During 2007, FX introduced three new dramas: Dirt, starring Courteney Cox; The Riches, starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver; and Damages, starring Glenn Close, Ted Danson and Rose Byrne. All three performed well in the ratings and were renewed for second seasons. By 2008, FX was available in 90.6 million homes in the U.S.
2008–13: "There Is No Box" and "Fearless"
In 2008, the channel launched a new branding campaign built around the theme "There Is No Box." It alluded to the phrase "thinking outside the box" and referred to how the channel's programming goes beyond "the box" concept. In addition, this was a pun related to the channel's creating original shows to compete against premium channels such as HBO. The channel's logo was updated on December 18, 2007, retaining only the FX wordmark while removing the klieg light logo box that had been placed to its left since the 1997 rebrand. The new branding included an advertising campaign featuring a post-game ad for the channel during Fox's coverage of Super Bowl XLII. The promo used the James Morrison song "You Give Me Something".
During 2008, competition with other pay-TV channels increased, which was evident in the second season ratings for series Dirt and The Riches, whose ratings decreased significantly from their freshman seasons. During some weeks, viewership for both shows barely exceeded 1 million. Both shows were cancelled in 2008; acquired shows Dharma and Greg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Married... with Children, and Fear Factor were also removed from the schedule.
On September 3, 2008, FX debuted Sons of Anarchy, a drama series created by Kurt Sutter (who previously served as executive producer of The Shield) about a fictional outlaw motorcycle club devoted to protecting their sheltered California town from corporate developers and drug dealers; its September premiere coincided with that of The Shield's final season. Sons of Anarchy became a critical and commercial success, having aired for seven seasons as of 2014[update]. In 2010, the series attracted an average of 4.9 million viewers per week, making it FX's highest rated series to date. Other new shows that premiered in 2010 included the Kenny Hotz comedy Testees, which debuted in October 2008 and was cancelled after its first season. In August 2008, FX relaunched its website, adding streaming of full episodes of its original shows. In 2009, reruns of the former American Broadcasting Company sitcom Spin City were removed from the schedule (though it was restored early the following year).
In July 2009, FX ordered three new comedy pilots: Archer, an animated series featuring a spy agency, which premiered on January 14, 2010; The League, with a group of friends who are part of a fantasy football league; and Louie, a sitcom starring stand-up comedian and writer Louis C.K., which "blend[s] stand-up material with[...] 'extended vignettes' depicting moments from [the comedian's] offstage experiences." The following year, FX debuted Wilfred, a comedy series starring Elijah Wood. It is based on the Australian series Wilfred.
In March 2010, the channel debuted Justified, a drama series created by Graham Yost based on Elmore Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole" (which was the series' original working title). It starred Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens – a tough, soft-spoken lawman with a rough side – and chronicles his cases and personal life, including unfinished business with an ex-wife and his aging father. FX also picked up the crime comedy-drama Terriers, created by Ted Griffin, for its fall 2010 lineup; in 2011, the channel debuted the boxing drama Lights Out, about retired boxing champion Patrick "Lights" Leary who is considering a comeback despite the serious risks it entails. Despite the critical acclaim that Terriers and Lights Out received, the two series were cancelled after their first seasons due to low viewership; For Terriers specifically, FX Networks president and General Manager John Landgraf would later admit in a 2016 interview with critic Alan Sepinwall that "I cannot think of a more painful moment of my career than the one when I defined Terriers as a failure by canceling it."
On October 1, 2010, parent company News Corporation (which spun off FX and the company's other U.S.-based entertainment properties to 21st Century Fox in July 2013) pulled its channels from Dish Network due to a carriage dispute over retransmission consent revenue. FX returned to the satellite provider's channel lineup on October 29, 2010, after Dish Network and News Corporation signed a long-term carriage agreement. On November 1, 2010, following a similar dispute, FX and its sister channels were restored by New York City-based cable provider Cablevision through a separate carriage agreement.
On October 14, 2011, FX announced that it picked up the rights to develop a series based on Scar Tissue and Lords of the Sunset Strip, the autobiographies of the Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis and his father, Blackie Dammett. HBO had picked up the series, which was to be titled Spider & Son, a few years before but never completed the project. Entourage writer/producers Marc Abrams and Mike Benson were tapped as its showrunners and Kiedis was to be involved as a co-producer. Dammett said in 2013 that the show has been "mothballed," and he hopes interest will resume on the project once the Red Hot Chili Peppers wrapped up their world tour that year. As of 2014 there has been no mention from FX, Kiedis or Dammett on the status of the series. On January 30, 2013, FX premiered the 1980s-set Cold War drama The Americans.
On March 28, 2013, FX president John Landgraf announced their upcoming launch of a new channel, FXX, described as "slightly more comedy focused" and aimed at younger audiences 18-34 compared with FX's programming and viewers aged 25–54, respectively. The channel was launched alongside the new tagline, "Fearless", that was implemented during 2013 across the channels of FX Networks. These announcements were part of FX Networks' plans to further distinguish itself from the "sameness" of free-to-air television and its "endless imitators" on subscription TV.
On December 14, 2017 The Walt Disney Company announced that it would acquire 21st Century Fox, including FX Networks, LLC. The acquisition was completed on March 20, 2019, thus making FX Networks a division of Walt Disney Television. Hulu and FX picked up show rights to Lionsgate film released in 2020 and 2021.
FX's most popular original shows include Justified, Damages, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, The Strain, Archer, American Horror Story, Anger Management, The Americans, Better Things, Louie, You're the Worst, Fargo, American Crime Story, Legion, and Atlanta.
The channel also broadcasts theatrically released feature films from network sister company 20th Century Fox and other film studios (such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate Films, Relativity Media, Village Roadshow Pictures and Warner Bros.), which take up much of FX's primetime and the majority of its weekend schedules. It airs repeats of network television sitcoms (such as Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother). From the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, the acquired shows which FX broadcast consisted largely of series originally broadcast on Fox between the late 1980s and the 2000s (such as That '70s Show, Married... with Children, and In Living Color).
After obtaining the spring broadcast rights to NASCAR, Fox Sports announced that FX would serve as its pay-TV partner for the 2001 inaugural season of race telecasts. As a result, FX covered several races in the series then known as the Busch Series and Winston Cup (including the All-Star Race), as well as select qualifying and final practice sessions. Having FX carry the race telecasts was intended to promote the channel and encourage NASCAR fans to contact their subscription providers to add FX to their lineup. In 2002, Peter Liguori, who was then president of FX, praised NASCAR for its growth; the channel increased penetration from 58.5 million to 76.6 million households nationwide. FX lost the broadcast rights to NASCAR after the 2006 season, as sister channel Speed Channel became the new pay-TV partner for NASCAR on Fox.
In 1997, FX obtained partial pay-TV rights to Major League Baseball games; the channel initially aired game telecasts on Monday nights, before moving them to Saturday nights in 1998. In 2000, FX began sharing the Major League Baseball pay-TV rights with then-sister network Fox Family Channel (taking rights to the league's Thursday evening games from Fox Sports Net), with games being scheduled on an alternating basis with FX. Starting with the 2001 season, FX also obtained rights to games from the MLB Division Series, the only playoff round to which Fox did not hold television rights. Among the games televised on FX was Cal Ripken, Jr.'s final home game with the Baltimore Orioles in September 2001.
On April 27, 2011, FX began airing soccer games from the UEFA Champions League as part of the league's overall television deal with Fox Sports. In the fall of 2011, FX began broadcasting Big 12, Conference USA and Pac-12 college football games on Saturdays (mainly primetime games, with some daytime games mixed in), as part of Fox Sports' broadcasting contracts with the three conferences. In January 2012, FX began broadcasting content from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
With the August 2013 launches of national sports networks Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, FX no longer serves as a regular pay-TV outlet for Fox Sports. However, UFC 185 preliminary fights aired on FX due to FS1 showing college basketball. Also on March 5, 2016 FX aired a Bundesliga match between that league's top two teams Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to provide wider distribution of the fixture, as Fox, FS1, and FS2 all had sporting commitments of their own at the time of the match and the match was to air on the little-distributed Fox Soccer Plus (which does not have carriage on numerous TV providers). Because this was Fox's first year of coverage of Germany's top soccer league and Bayern and Borussia are the two most successful Bundesliga teams (and have an intense rivalry known as Der Klassiker), Fox wanted to give the game wider distribution, and so the game was moved to FX in a last-minute decision. In June 2016, FX continued its broadcast of sports with the airing of three games from the Copa América Centenario in order to gain a wider viewing audience for the selected teams.
FX Networks, LLC, also referred to as FX Networks and FX Productions, is a company consisting of a network of cable channels plus a production company and a subsidiary of Walt Disney Television, one half of the Disney Media Networks segment of The Walt Disney Company.
In June 1994, Fox Broadcasting launched the fX cable channel under president Anne Sweeney. Early he next month, Fox Broadcasting chair Lucie Salhany and fX was then transferred in a reorganization soon there after under Fox Television chair and CEO Chase Carey. In Mid-July 1994, a movie sister channel was announced under the working name of The Fox Movie Studio, also under Sweeney under the title of president of fX and Fox Movie Studio, to start airing in the fall. FX Networks launched the Fox Movie Studio on October 31, 1994 as fXM: Movies from Fox. fXM: Movies from Fox on March 1, 2000 was renamed Fox Movie Channel.
John Landgraf joined as president of entertainment in 2004 then promoted in 2005 to president and general manager of FX Networks. In that span, FX's original series increased to 11 from two, which was a factor in starting an in-house production company.
In August 2007, FX Productions was formed to take stakes in FX programming. FX acquired a number of non-Fox films for the channels. Landgraf was elevated to CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions in June 2013 while taking charge of FXNow digital video-on-demand platform. FXX launched on September 2, 2013 replacing Fox Soccer. Also that month, Fox Movie Channel changed its name back to FXM.
FX Movie Channel
FX Movie Channel (or FXM) launched on October 31, 1994 as FXM: Movies from Fox (prior to its launch, the channel was originally named "Fox Movie Studio") Originally launched as a spinoff of FX, the channel focused on feature films from the 20th Century Fox film library from the 1930s to the 1970s along with a few other film studios. FXM became a separately branded channel on March 1, 2000, when it was renamed Fox Movie Channel.
On January 1, 2012, Fox Movie Channel's programming was divided into two 12-hour blocks: its main programming schedule, from 3:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, was a commercial-free block retaining the older movies from the 20th Century Fox library. Another block, called FX Movie Channel, the other 12 hours consisted of an expanded slate of more recent feature films from Fox and some of the other film studios.
On March 27, 2013, Fox Entertainment Group announced that Fox Movie Channel would be fully rebranded under the FXM name and format. FX Movie Channel became the primary brand for the channel in September 2013; the classic film block retained the Fox Movie Channel name until June 9, 2014, when the block (which retains a commercial-free format) was renamed FXM Retro.
Aimed at young men in the 18-34 age range, FXX is a pay television channel that launched on September 2, 2013, replacing the sports-oriented Fox Soccer; FXX is a general entertainment channel that primarily focuses on comedies (whereas FX focuses primarily on drama series and films, although FX and FXX do not maintain the same genre-exclusive format as TBS and TNT as FX continues to carry sitcoms and comedic films, while FXX carries a limited selection of dramatic series and films); its programming includes original and acquired comedy series, some feature films and drama series.
With the launch of the channel, first-run episodes of some of FX's original comedy series (such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell) were shifted over to FXX. At its launch, most providers that have agreements to carry FXX have placed the channel in extra-cost sports packages (despite being a general entertainment service) as an artifact of carriage deals with the previous holder of FXX's channel space, Fox Soccer; this has been resolved over time, with FX and FXX being located next to each other on some channel lineups.
FXNOW is a website for desktop computers, as well as an application for smartphones and tablet computers, along with Windows 10. It allows subscribers of participating pay television providers (such as Time Warner Cable and Comcast Xfinity) numerous viewing options:
- individual episodes of FX and FXX's original series (which are made available the morning after their original airdate),
- acquired series (most notably, the 552-episode catalog of the first 25 seasons of The Simpsons, which was added on August 21, 2014 as part of FXX's acquisition of subscription syndication rights to the series), and feature films (with an initial library of 165 film titles, which will increase to more than 200 titles beginning in 2015),
- Additional content includes behind-the-scenes features on computers and mobile devices via their TV Everywhere login provided by their subscription provider.
- The ability to watch Fox programming along was introduced in 2018, along with FX/FXX programming being added to the FOXNOW app, this feature was removed in March 2019, due to Disney acquiring FX Networks.
Launched in January 2014, the service is also available through iOS, Android, Samsung and Windows 8 (later Windows 10) devices, Xbox One and Xbox 360, and the Roku streaming player. Although the service is available for free to subscribers of participating subscription TV providers, shows available for streaming on FXNOW feature commercial interruption.
In September 2018, Fox officially launched FX+, a streaming service featuring all FX and FXX original series from The Shield to the present day ad-free. Initially, the service was made available in the United States exclusively for Xfinity subscribers in the fall of 2017. Xfinity, Armstrong and Cox subscribers have access to FX+ direct through their set-top boxes via those providers' video on demand platforms, in addition to the streaming options. In July 2019, it was announced on the service's website that it will cease being available on August 21, 2019, as a result of The Walt Disney Company's near-full acquisition of Hulu and move of FX content to that service; its ad-free model would otherwise be effectively duplicative with Hulu's commercial-free plan.
FX Entertainment is the division of FX Networks that oversees original programming under the FX brand, including FX Productions. It was formed in May 2019 as part of FX Networks' executive restructuring following acquisition by Disney. On June 10, 2019, Disney announced that both FX Entertainment and Disney Television Studios would share the same casting division.
FX Productions (FXP) is FX Networks' in-house production company.
FX Productions was formed in August 2007 to take stakes in FX programming. Eric Schrier add senior vice president of FX Productions to the post of senior vice president of original programming in charge of current series and alternative programming.
In July 2014, Fox Networks Group and DNA Films formed DNA TV Limited joint venture. Fox Networks Group would have first global first rights with co-financing options to the joint venture's shows. DNA TV would be managed by DNA Films management with Eric Schrier, president of Original Programming for FX Networks and FX Productions handling Fox's joint venture interest.
Paul Simms signed a overall television production deal with FXP in October 2017.
In 2004, Fox Networks Group Asia and STAR TV (through a distribution agreement) partnered to launch FX Asia. The channel is divided into four services: a national channel distributed throughout much of the continent, and three regional channels serving South Korea, and Philippines.
On August 6, 2011, Rogers Media entered into a licensing agreement with FX Networks to launch FX Canada as a pay television channel. The network, which launched on November 1, 2011, features a mix of FX original series; acquired American movies and series; and original Canadian programming and sporting events (as required by content rules imposed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission). FX Canada's broadcast license requires that 15% of its programming consist of Canadian content in its first year, 20% in its second year and 25% by its third year.
The FX channel in Latin America, is intended almost entirely aimed at a male audience, as a counterpart of Fox Life, created for the female viewers. It is mainly relegated to air television series from Fox, while movies are relegated to FXM.
FX was launched in the Middle East as a free to air channel along with the rest of the fox branded channels which include (National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo People, STAR Movies, Fox Movies, Fox Family Movies, Fox Action Movies, STAR World, FOX, FX, Fox Life, Fox Crime, Fox Rewayat, Channel V International and Baby TV) , the channels later became encrypted instead of free, as a part of beIN network.
- "fX: The World's First Living Television Network" (primary; 1994–1996)
- "fX: TV Made Fresh Daily" (secondary; 1994–1996)
- "fX: TV with You in Mind" (1996–1997)
- "FX: Fox Gone Cable" (1997–2008)
- "There Is No Box" (2008–2013)
- "Fearless" (2013–present)
- "FX Has The Movies" (alternate slogan, 2008–present)
FX began broadcasting a 720p HD channel in 2007, which is available on the majority of pay television providers. The SD channel, as was standard with all of Fox's broadcast and pay-TV networks (and also its new Disney siblings, which also all operate in 720p), is now merely downscaled from the HD feed at the provider headend level rather than having a devoted SD feed.
In June 2017, the 101-year-old actress Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit against FX Networks and producer Ryan Murphy for inaccurately portraying her and using her likeness without permission. On Monday March 26, 2018 a California appeals court threw out the lawsuit on first amendment ground.
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