The veteran comedies officially launched new network FXX on Wednesday night and retained most of their audience — even though the new channel is in 26 million fewer homes than their former network, FX.
The shows have cult followings, but it was no guarantee that audiences would show up for their season premieres on a new night and network. Viewers had to track down FXX, which is replacing Fox Soccer on most major cable systems, and also remember that the comedies are now airing on Wednesday, instead of Thursday.
According to Nielsen estimates, the ninth-season premiere of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” averaged 648,000 adults 18-49 and 757,000 viewers overall in the 10 o’clock timeslot — down from the 809,000 and 1.05 million it drew for its opener in October of last year.
But in men 18-34, “Sunny” impressively bested its premiere of last year (396,000 vs. 366,000).
“The League” had a good fifth-season premiere, building on its “Sunny” lead-in. Its 687,000 adults 18-49 was down just 6% from its year-ago 732,000, and its overall audience of 786,000 was within 13% of last year’s 907,000.
FXX wanted to avoid putting its male-skewing comedies on opposite NFL action, which runs on Thursdays from September through mid-December. But in shifting the former FX comedies to Wednesday on FXX, that meant they’d go head to head with firstrun FX dramas — “The Bridge” now and “American Horror Story” next month.
Last night’s episode of “The Bridge” averaged about 690,000 adults 18-49 (a 0.54 rating) and 1.65 million viewers overall, roughly in line with recent weeks.
FX has said that one of the ways it is looking at differentiating the original network with FXX is that the latter would have a slightly younger skew. That was indeed the case on Wednesday, where the comedies on FXX fared best among men 18-34, while the drama on FX had its best rating in men 25-54.
On Wednesday in the 10 o’clock hour, FXX outdelivered ABC, CBS and NBC in adults 18-34 and men 18-34, FXX’s target demos.
Post-primetime on FXX, “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” averaged 137,000 adults 18-49 as the former weekly series on FX expanded to a nightly one with its move to the new network. It averaged about 280,000 in the demo with its last weekly cycle.
FXX had a soft launch Sunday with a marathon of “Parks and Recreation” but Wednesday marked its first original programming. In addition to last night’s series, FXX also has the return of comedy “Legit” coming up, and it will bow new animated cmedy “Chozen” in January.