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Cox Adds Commercial-Free FX+

Cox Communications has agreed to launch FX Networks’ commercial-free subscription video on demand service FX+, which costs subscribers an additional $5.99 per month, in October.

FX+ was initially launched by Comcast earlier this month. Fifteen more series have been added to the service, FX Networks said, bringing its total to 31 current and past series and more than 1,300 episodes. The shows will be gradually rolled out; the programmer expects the full roster to be available in 2018.

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said FX+ has “exceeded our expectations so far,” but he declined to specify how many Comcast customers have signed up. “We have subscribers who have been really happy.”

Strengthening the Relationship

With cord-cutting on the rise and the number of pay TV households eroding, programmers are looking for ways to build relationships directly with consumers, either through traditional distributors or by going over the top.

In October, subscribers to Cox’s Contour will be able to upgrade their service to include FX+ in their video package for $5.99 a month. Subscribers are also able to access FX+ content via Cox on Demand, the Cox Contour app and FXNow.

FX+ provides exclusive in-season stacking rights to all of FX’s current original series, including The Americans, Atlanta and Better Things, among the most recent additions. At the Emmy Awards, Atlanta’s Donald Glover won twice, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series.

FX Networks produces and owns the bulk of its series, but to create FX+, it went back and secured rights to the shows it doesn’t own.

“That’s not an easy thing to do financially and from a logistical and negotiating standpoint to essentially pull all the work of 15 years together in one place,” Landgraf said. “It’s very helpful to us that we’ve produced and we own many of those shows.”

The changing media environment means that FX must morph from a linear channel to a multiplatform brand, according to Landgraf.

“You may ultimately need people to pay for your brand,” beyond the time and attention they give a network’s program, he said. “You hope at some point you’re going to have a successful strategy where consumers are actually going to pay directly for the brand in the way that they do for HBO or Showtime or Netflix or Amazon or Hulu.”

FX has an advantage because its brand and programming strategy have been fairly consistent for about 15 years. That’s allowed FX to build up a library that stacks up favorably to any other ad-supported channel and most of the premium channels, Landgraf said.

“We’ve been thinking out ahead of the present tense and expanding the brand, expanding the channels, building enough infrastructure to make enough series that we have something relevant for consumers every week, every month,” he said. “That maps back into a more directly consumer-driven strategy when you need multipletouch points of engagement with your brand.”

In June, AMC Networks teamed up with Comcast to launch a similar premium video service called AMC Premiere, which costs $4.99 a month.

AMC Premiere allows subscribers to watch hit shows like The Walking Dead and Into the Badlands commercial-free, both concurrently with live broadcasts and on demand.

AMC is also creating exclusive and first-look content, plus curated movies for AMC Premiere subscribers.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.