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TCA17: FX's Landgraf: Television Heading to ‘Unmanageable Number of Shows’

Complete Coverage: 2017 TCA Summer Press Tour

Beverly Hills, Calif. — John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions, addressed what he called “the elephant in the room”—the massive transformation, as he put it, of the television business during its peak TV era. He spoke of television “heading from an optimal number of shows to an unmanageable number of shows,” and how FX seeks to stand out in this landscape.

Landgraf spoke of the importance of regulation in preventing monopolies, whether it’s airlines or financial services or ride-hailing companies, and how that lets a broader pool of players survive.

He said a good amount of TV today is produced at a loss, as networks clamor for viewers’ attention.

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FX, he said, has “aggressively transformed our model,” with building up non-linear viewing key to the strategy.

Earlier in the week, FX announced FX+, a commercial-free, on demand platform that debuts for Comcast subscribers Sept. 5. He said Comcast approached FX about the initiative. FX is in talks with the other major subscription TV providers, added Landgraf.

The product, which offers more than a thousand episodes of FX shows past and present such as Rescue Me, The Shield, Damages, Sons of Anarchy and Legion, goes for $5.99 a month. Landgraf acknowledged the increasing number of streaming packages available to consumers. “I don’t think the average home is going to have 20 subscription services,” he said.

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Landgraf is a respected voice on the state of the industry, often delivering his unique take on television at the biannual TCA get-together. At the January TCA event, FX shared its findings on the total number of scripted TV series that are out. That number is over 500 today, Landgraf said.

The FX chief wasn’t sure what is next for Louie. It’s possible the show has come to an end, he said, and also possible that more seasons will hit over the years. Landgraf stressed that Louis CK has several shows on FX, including Better Things and Baskets.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.