Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Analysis: FXX (Canada)

Ever since the NHL deal, Rogers has become a born again broadcaster. In recent years, they've shifted their broadcasting outlets towards a LONG underserved demographic of young adult men. This shift was punctuated with the demise of the female-skewing, in-name only, Biography Channel and the rise of Viceland.

The Canadian version of FXX, another network aimed at young adults, was created to continue this trend and keep in line with FX Networks in the U.S. FX and FXX have aired new original series at the same time, so it makes sense to launch another network to air the new stuff day-and-date with the U.S, rather than keep them all on the same network and deal with all the nonsense. However, whatever complaints viewers in the U.S had about FXX might be justified in the case of the Canadian channel.

The problem with FXX Canada is that it's barebones. Rogers lacks the stacked content libraries that Corus Entertainment and Bell Media have and because of this, at launch, the channel was siphoning off or outright recycling shows airing on FX Canada. Case and point: Murdoch Mysteries, a drama that used to air on Citytv. Since FXX is geared towards comedies, Murdoch sticks out like a sour thumb and is only there to fulfill Canadian content requirements.

Are you telling me they couldn't have at least picked up the rights to another Canadian show?  For instance, Republic of Doyle - a comedy-drama which would have been a perfect for FXX's comedic slant. What about all those animated comedies, like Odd Job Jack or Chilly Beach? They would have been a nice compensation to FXX's short-lived Animation Domination block. Instead, Rogers decided to recycle the handful of scripted series they already have, rather than pay money to acquire something different. Rogers is trying to avoid taking risks, but they come across as lazy instead.

FXX Canada does its intended job correctly, airing premieres at the same time as FXX in the U.S. As for reruns, The League is gone but It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia still has a strong presence on the channel. However, I feel FXX Canada doesn't fully utilize the rest of its acquired slate to its fullest.

Given Family Guy's popularity and the fact that FXX Canada has a lot more stretching room than Teletoon at Night or Adult Swim Canada, you'd think Rogers would capitalize by airing the show more frequently, just as FXX proper did with the Simpsons. Instead, it only airs once a day, twice on the weekends (repeats don't count). My hypothesis is that Rogers shares rights with Corus Entertainment, who program Teletoon at Night and Adult Swim, and have some sort of arrangement. However, as of writing, FXX is the only Canadian network that airs Family Guy, so you can't help but feel that things are about to change.

The Mindy Project and Bob's Burgers haven't been on as long as Family Guy has, so a daily strip is fine. But while Bob's Burgers also airs on Teletoon at Night, The Mindy Project only airs on FXX as a season encore on Tuesday Nights. Meanwhile, endless repeats of Seed and Package Deal, the other two recycled shows Rogers owns, completely takeover weekend nights. So, instead of the "premium, anti-formula" programming people subscribe to watch, does Rogers expect them to settle for low-rated Citytv burnoffs?

If the problem is that Rogers only has rights to the current season of The Mindy Project, and that they only air Bob's Burgers and Family Guy at a specific time, then they should work on their negotiation skills. These three shows are the only things keeping viewers from asking the inevitable question: "Why am I subscribed to this channel?" It would be beneficial for Rogers to hang on to these shows and make sure people know FXX is the only channel that airs them. If money is the issue, Rogers owns a dead weight of a network called G4 that needs to be put down. Cable bundles won't save it forever and, unless Rogers is willing to put in the work to revitalize the channel so it can make more money, it's not worth keeping around.

A channel like FXX Canada hasn't existed in years, so I'm pulling for it to stick around. Its current state is the best its been since its launch two years ago, I expect it to get better from here on out.

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