The race for cable TV network shelf space continues, and News Corp.'s FX Networks is branching out to a new suite of networks, entertainment networks in particular.
NBCUniversal and Viacom have a full assortment of general entertainment networks.
NBC has some dozen networks -- including USA, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen, E!. We are not even talking about its news and business news channels -- MSNBC and CNBC -- or even sports channels.
Disney-ABC and News Corp have been somewhat behind here. Sure, Disney has powerhouse ESPN, but where can much of its entertainment TV network content go for an afterlife. ABC Family? In part, and yes, there is TV syndication and international sales. Digital video is not there yet.
News Corp. has Fox News and the singularly strong FX channel as its main revenue generating operations. For many, FX had been a niche network, running edgy TV programming fare and movies, as well as off-network shows.
But now it looks to expand the FX entertainment brand -- FXX, targeted to 18- to 34-year-olds, while the mothership FX brand will go for slightly older 18- to 49-year-olds, and FXM will target 25- to 54-year-olds. To make its big splash, FXX will grab the hefty 74 million subscriber universe from the Fox Soccer Channel.
It's all about the brand name, John Landgraf, president of FX Networks, told media buyers at its upfront presentation: "You know an FX original when you see it."
Some of this movement for expanding cable shelf space under familiar brand names occurred more than a decade ago. That’s when Discovery Communications and Viacom especially looked to roll out variations of the Discovery and MTV/Nickelodeon brands respectively.
Most other big media companies have always depended on their TV stations in the past -- for spread their programming wealth with originals, with reruns.
This week, CBS announced it was buying 50% for TV Guide Channel; Lionsgate will continue to own the other 50%. Entertainment cable channels -- perhaps more than other genre cable networks -- now continue to be in vogue for the obvious reasons: networks can use the TV production resources.
Does this all seem like back to the TV future? Nice to have something predictable.