×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

FX Networks to Launch App That Could Counter Netflix

FXNow app stocked with blockbuster movie library unavailable on subscription VOD

A cable network like FX and a streaming service like Netflix might not appear to be direct competitors, but that’s going to change in December.

That’s when FX Networks, a 21st Century Fox-owned portfolio of channels including FXM and FXX, will launch an app with the kind of library aimed at squarely providing multichannel subscribers with the kind of movie selection they might otherwise look to Netflix to provide.

FXNow will boast the kind of library titles that are in Netflix’s sweet spot, including multiple installments of popular franchises such as “Iron Man,” “Twilight,” “Thor” and “Grownups,” not to mention “The Avengers,” “Captain America,” “Ted and “World War Z.” (Netflix gets some of those titles in the pay-TV window, but they disappear from the service in the basic-cable window where FX and Netflix buy most of their movies.)

Some 40-60 titles will be available on FXNow at one given time, and they will not be available to any SVOD service. FXNow will also have recent episodes of FX and FXX original series.

Appearing at the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit on Monday, Chuck Saftler, president of program strategy and COO of FX Networks, said cablers have to adapt to the changing times by providing audiences access to a nonlinear TV-viewing experience.

“We’ve got to understand that viewers sometimes are going to want things live and they’re going to want to lean back,” said Saftler. “And sometimes they’re going to want to engage and lean forward and be able to get the programs they want when they want them, and that’s where the app is.”

Saftler said FX approached cable operators to offer them exclusive, nonlinear, authenticated content. Because consumers can access FXNow only with a cable subscription, he said distributors were onboard for the venture. “Right now, we’re in it with the distributor, and by being fully authenticated, by saying the only way you’re going to get that content is to pay your cable bill or your satellite bill,” he said.

Despite the app’s implications for a future free from distributors, Saftler said maintaining FX Networks’ relationship with multichannel video programming distributors is crucial. “Ultimately, the MVPDs help us fund the enormous amount of programming that we’re making, and we want to keep that ecosystem healthy because it ultimately puts a lot of people to work and gives people a lot of choice in their entertainment,” he said.

FXNow would be available only to subs who can authenticate their subscriptions to cable, satellite and telco services, but that’s a pretty wide swath of viewers considering FX in particular is broadly penetrated across U.S. homes.

One big tradeoff: While FXNow is free with your subscription, its movies will still be interrupted by commercials.

As the driving force behind FX Networks’ acquisitions strategy, Saftler has long been building a stockpile of top theatrical titles through a range of expensive deals with studios including Universal, Sony and Paramount. However, it wasn’t quite clear until now exactly why considering most of FX’s basic-cable competitors concentrated more on acquiring episodic series, which are thought to be a stickier attraction for encouraging habitual viewing.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun

    Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun Rights

    Viacom has sealed a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the cable rights to “Seinfeld” starting in October 2021. The deal comes on the heels of a blockbuster new deal between Sony and Netflix for the streaming rights to the beloved NBC sitcom that also begins in 2021. “Seinfeld” reruns have been a staple of [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content