FX Head John Landgraf Explains How Hulu Has Helped the Brand

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Get ready for a FX to get aggressive. During the Television Critics Association’s 2021 summer tour, FX head John Landgraf announced that the brand will be launching 30 shows across its channels and brands FX, FXX, and FX on Hulu. This move, Landgraf revealed, has been made to position FX for the future.

Thirty shows may not seem like many for other networks or streamers, but it’s a ton for FX. For years the network has prided itself on giving specialized attention to its shows, creators, stars, and marketing campaigns. This personalized attention has seen returns. Though FX has far fewer shows than streamers like Netflix and HBO, its slim yet specific slate typically hits far above its weight class when it comes to awards competitions or word of mouth popularity. Look no further than the critical success of American Crime Story and Atlanta or the commercial success of Dave and The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears. Ramping up its focus to 30 shows was a very specific choice on the network’s behalf.

“I think that scripted programming consumption is rising very rapidly on streaming platforms, and conversely it seems to be declining on linear channels,” Landgraf said.  “That’s why it was really, vitally important for FX to really play a major part in a component of the ecosystem that’s growing. As you’ve seen Hulu is a really, really vibrant platform, and it’s growing very, very fast.”

In March of 2020 FX launched FX on Hulu. The network vertical offers exclusive shows that are only available on Hulu as well as a streaming home for FX originals the day after new episodes premiere on FX. “As far as I’m concerned that positions us towards the future,” Landgraf explained.

The network head was also frank about the challenges of creating television in this crowded landscape, let alone the challenge of launching several new shows. “This is where I think the bar of quality and originality is so intensely high. You don’t do this, none of us does this for a living without being accustomed to working in an intensely competitive environment. I have never experienced a level of competition or an environment that’s as crowded as the one we’ve been in television for the last several years,” Landgraf said. “I guess I would say [this] is a vertical stack where the material is often produced by FX Productions or 20th Television or ABC Studios — not always, but almost always usually. We sort of have control of the process quantitatively overall from end to end.”

FX on Hulu has also given the brand access to a slightly difference audience than its linear channels. “There’s a slightly different audience between those two distribution platforms. Typically, Hulu is meaningfully younger. Its audience is meaningfully younger. I guess on average it’s maybe 15, 16, 17 years younger. I think the characteristic of who might sample or see the show can be slightly different depending on it,” Landgraf said.

At its core, FX’s partnership with Hulu is an impressive experiment from a network that revels in the experimental. Few networks have truly tried to create alongside streaming services, instead of simply handing over their libraries to streamers or competing with them. It also seems to be a gamble that’s paying off.

“If you go back to the shows that we’ve launched since March of 2019, we actually had one of the most successful batting averages across that span that we’ve ever experienced in the 19 years of FX, or the 17 years I’ve been at the channels,” Landgraf revealed. “So it’s hard. I can tell you the organization is really stretched because of the kind of bespoken, personalized relationships we pay to the talent of each individual show. But that’s the challenge here. The challenge here is how successfully could we scale that process? And how much could we contribute to Hulu and Disney without lowering our batting average or sort of diminishing the success or quality of our shows?”

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