“Fargo” Season 4 with Chris Rock, “Devs,” “Shōgun,” diversity update and more
FX followed FOX by making a handful of big announcements and updates of its own at the summer 2018 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour in Beverly Hills, California, last week. The network also led the pack at the TCA Awards for the third consecutive year, taking home four trophies – including three for “The Americans.” Here’s a recap of FX’s day at this summer’s TCA press tour:
On Friday, Aug. 3, John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions, kicked off FX’s summer 2018 TCA press tour presentation by looking back at a “lively” first half of 2018, which included the end of critically acclaimed series “The Americans,” which ran for six seasons. He also highlighted FX’s 50 Emmy nominations this year across the categories of drama, comedy and limited series, which works out to an average of about five Emmy nominations per submitted program and scripted series categories.
“However, as happy as we are with our batting averages, it’s pretty clear that, for FX to move beyond the 50 or so nominations we’ve been getting and closer towards the 100 or so nominations of HBO, we’re going to have to produce shows in more than just three programming categories,” John said. “So we’re excited about beginning to make our own contributions in these genres as well, and as always, we’ll be doing it so very selectively in a way that strives to uphold the quality and identity of the FX brand.”
John also shared a midyear update on scripted programs: 319 scripted programs have been released in the U.S. so far in 2018, which is up 5 percent from the 305 scripted programs released at this point last year. Basic cable’s total dipped 11 percent, broadcast’s total dipped 5 percent, streaming TV’s total rose 46 percent and premium cable’s total rose 42 percent.
John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions
During his opening remarks, John also shared some programming and diversity updates:
- FX placed an eight-episode order for the limited series “Devs,” starring Sonoya Mizuno and Nick Offerman. The new series, which begins production this month and will premiere on FX in 2019, is written and will be directed by award-winning writer/director Alex Garland.
- FX ordered “Shōgun,” a 10-episode limited series period drama based on the best-selling novel that goes by the same name. John said the new series set in feudal Japan will be FX’s largest international production to date and one of the network’s most ambitious series.
- FX ordered a fourth installment of Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning limited series “Fargo,” which will star Chris Rock.
- In keeping with previous TCA press tours, John gave an update on FX’s efforts to improve its diversity (all numbers were for series that FX will air during the full calendar year 2018):
- Directors: 51 percent of all episodes were directed by white men, 22 percent were directed by white women, 22 percent were directed by nonwhite men, 5 percent were directed by nonwhite women. (On an individual basis, 46 percent of the directors employed on FX’s shows this year were white men, 22 percent were white women, 22 percent were nonwhite men and 10 percent were nonwhite women.)
- Actors: 33 percent were white men, 31 percent were nonwhite men, 18 percent were white women and 18 percent were nonwhite women.
- Writers: 48 percent were white men, 21 percent were nonwhite men, 17 percent were white women and 14 percent were nonwhite women.
“We remain intent on changing what has been a broken system and are determined that FX will be a leader in fostering positive change,” John said.
Toward the end of his remarks, John said that all FX subscribers now have the opportunity to upgrade to FX+, the commercial-free on-demand hub offering all new seasons of FX original series and nearly every legacy FX original series in the network’s history for $5.99 per month. Up until John’s announcement, FX+ was available only to Comcast Xfinity and Cox Countour subscribers; now it’s available to approximately 90 million subscribers in the U.S.
John closed his remarks by saying that FX now has 233 million U.S. subscribers across its three-channel suite – FX, FXX and FXM – a year-over-year increase of several million subscribers (as of June). “I point this out because it flies in the face of a widely held narrative that cord cutting is accelerating and that everyone is bailing from the multichannel bundle and heading for the streaming services. I’m not saying cord cutting is a myth. What I am saying is that, with the rapid growth of virtual MVPDs, cord cutting has actually decelerated over the past year and the FX networks are actually seeing real growth because our channels are among the few that are included in almost the entire virtual MVPD universe.”
After his remarks, John answered some questions from the TV critics in attendance. One question was about what he thought were the best unexpected hits on FX.
“I think one of the things I really love about what we do is it is like drilling for oil, I think,” John said. “And I just am constantly shocked by where we find it and who we find it with. You know, so much of all of the successful shows we’ve ever had have come from people that you virtually have never heard of before they created a show for FX. And that’s part of what I love about what we do, too, which isn’t just sort of snatching up high-end talent from established talent from our competitors. It really is about growing it from the ground up.”