FX this morning announced the launch of a new streaming service, FX+, that will offer commercial-free viewing of current seasons of both FX and FXX original series, in addition to all seasons of many other current and back catalog titles of other FX shows. However, there’s a catch. The service isn’t designed to cater to the growing number of cord cutters, but instead is being launched in partnership with Comcast. It will be available at launch only to Comcast Xfinity TV subscribers for an additional $5.99 per month.
That may seem like an odd business model for a streaming service to pursue, but it wouldn’t be the first cable TV network to go this route.
In June, AMC debuted a similar $5 per month ad-free streaming service called AMC Premiere, also in partnership with Comcast.
These deals allow Comcast to share in the subscription revenue these premium add-ons generate, which are targeted largely toward the network’s biggest fans – that is, those who want to watch their favorite TV shows uninterrupted, as they would on rival streaming services, like Netflix. The working theory is that these super fans will see the upcharge as a nominal fee that allows them to watch shows ad-free, on-demand, and on more devices.
In FX’s case, its service offers access to some fairly popular titles, though many come from its archives. This list includes shows like “American Horror Story,” “Damages,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The League,” “Legion,” “Louie,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Rescue Me,” “The Shield,” “Sons of Anarchy,” and “Terriers.”
The service will not have FX’s complete catalog at launch, however. Instead, the network says that because of the large number of back catalog titles available, it will continue to roll out shows over the course of the year to the FX+ library. It expects that roll out to complete by 2018. In total, it will include over 1,100 episodes from original programs aired over the last 15 years.
The service can be accessed through Xfinity On Demand, the Xfinity Stream app and website, and FXNOW. Current Xfinity customers can upgrade through their set-top boxes, the Xfinitytv.com website or by calling Comcast directly, starting on Sept. 5.
A future version of the service will introduce new features like temporary, offline downloads of current season content and support for 4K for select shows, the companies say.
“FX has built a brand known for high-quality, award-winning original content and we are pleased to partner with [FX Networks CEO] John Landgraf and the team at FX to offer premium experiences like FX+ to Xfinity TV customers, and explore what it means to be a network in the future,” said Matt Strauss, Executive Vice President and GM, Video and Entertainment Services at Comcast, in a statement.
He added that deals like this represent how Comcast is looking for more ways to add value to its existing cable customers by offering them more choice and access to new experiences.
FX Networks’ dramas, comedies and limited series have won FX Networks more Emmy Awards over the past three years than Netflix and Amazon combined, the company pointedly notes in its announcement. But the company seems to be counting on its shows’ quality to draw subscribers, as opposed to fleshing out the service with new, exclusive content.
This makes the FX+ service different from the AMC one.
AMC Premiere is arguably better at catering to “super fans,” with its promises of extra content from top shows, like uncut and bonus scenes, interviews with series’ cast and showrunners, and other behind-the-scenes footage. FX+, meanwhile, seems to be more about Comcast trying to stem the tide of cord cutters, and eking out a few extra dollars from cable TV subscribers to make up for the cord cutting losses.