Luguori tapped prexy of FX Net

'NYPD,' 'X-Files' give chan highest viewership ever

NEW YORK — Peter Liguori was named president of general entertainment cable web FX on Wednesday.

Liguori, previously senior VP, marketing, Fox/Liberty Networks, replaces Mark Sonnenberg, who was named executive VP, Fox/Liberty Ventures, on Tuesday.

Liguori will report to Tony Ball, president and CEO, Fox/Liberty Networks.

“Peter made a huge impact on the positioning and marketing of Fox Sports Net and the rebranding and repositioning of FX over the last 18 months,” Ball said.

Liguori joins FX as the 4-year-old cable channel is achieving its highest viewership levels. Driven by the success of the off-network “NYPD Blue” and “X-Files,” FX increased its primetime household delivery to 310,000 in July, a 60% increase over July 1997.

In a conference call Wednesday, Liguori said he hopes to further establish FX with it forthcoming original series and movies.

Look, ma, no net

“We’re in development with a lot of original programming that will add a lot of value,” said Liguori, who described the originals as “programming with an edge that walks a tightrope without a net.”

This month, FX will premiere two original series, “The Penn & Teller Show” and “Instant Comedy” with comedy troupe the Groundlings.

Liguori also touted three original FX films in production at Fox TV Studios: “Strange Justice,” a dark comedy about the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings; “Accidental Empires,” about the titans that built the computer industry; and “Driven,” about a female executive who takes her rapist hostage and calls a local radio shock jock, who debates her case on the air for eight hours (Variety, July 23).

FX will begin televising original movies in 1999.

Liguori noted that FX’s upcoming slate of theatrical movies includes “Boogie Nights” and “The Full Monty.”

Distribution downer

One area where the Los Angeles-based FX has faltered somewhat is distribution. FX launched impressively with about 20 million subscribers, but its relatively expensive 30¢ per subscriber affiliate fee has caused slower growth than some competitors.

For example, the History Channel, which launched Jan. 1, 1995, has 50.4 million subscribers.

“The challenges (at FX) are that we fulfill FX’s charter and maximize distribution,” Liguori said.

Before joining Fox/Liberty in July 1996, Liguori worked nearly 10 years at HBO, where he rose to the position of VP, consumer marketing.

He also has experience in the feature film business as producer of the independent film “Big Night.”

Prior to joining HBO, Liguori was an account supervisor at ad agency Ogilvy & Mather.