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 FX Network: There is No Box

FX Network is a top cable network. FX channel provides highly popular original series and motion pictures. 

Industrial Analysis


       FX Network is a basic cable channel that was founded in 1994 by its immediate parent Fox Entertainment Group, which is owned by News Corporation.
FX, originally named fX, started off as a “live programming, broadcast” from a New York loft. “TV Made Fresh Daily” was one of fX slogans when it first aired. But without much success with live programming,[1] FX took different directions.
        In 1998, Peter Liguori joined the FX Networks was appointed President and CEO of FX Networks. During his five-year period, FX went from reaching 39 million homes to reaching 84 million homes, becoming a “top-five basic cable network”, and reaching the highest ratings and revenue.[2] Under Peter Liguori’s guidance shows like “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck,” and “Rescue Me” turned into top shows. In 2005, John Landgraf was appointed the president and general manager of FX Networks.[3] FX is currently a “Top 5 network”, reaching over 90 million US homes, providing hit original series and motion pictures.[4] FX networks currently gained the basic cable rights of Avatar and The Social Network.[5] In 2007, FX Networks launched its first big marketing campaign: “There is no Box.” Mr. Landgraf said that FX wanted to “elevate nonconformity to an aspirational experience.” The main idea was to show how FX goes against original TV genres. The logo can still be seen on the official FX website and on TV. [6]
-President and General Manager: John Landgraf
-Executive-Vice President Marketing and Promotion: Stephanie Gibbons
-EVP Original Programming: Nick Grad


FX aspires to be a channel in the vein of HBO and Shotime[7] in that they have edgy programming that pushes the boundaries of basic cable television[8]. Series tend to push boundaries with their language and subject matter. For example, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia deals with drugs, the homeless, racism, and politics among other topics. The Shield deals with corrupt cops, Rescue Me revolves around a group of misogynistic fire fighters, and Nip/Tuck takes place in the in the seedy underbelly of plastic surgery. Also similar to the premium cable of HBO and Shotime is that instead of relying heavily on off-network re-runs, FX fills their schedule with recent movies to which they have first-run rights[9].

FX’s most successful and long-running programs to date have been It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rescue Me, Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, and Nip/Tuck. The Shield and Nip/Tuck both ended in their sixth season after having runs filled with golden globe and emmy nominations. Rescue Me ended its sixth season this past summer. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is currently in its sixth season and Sons of Anarchy is currently in its third season.[10]

Signature Programming

FX, again like HBO and Shotime, aims for a blend of comedic and dramatic shows dealing with a darker subject matter[11]. Signature programming includes the successful series listed above and Terriers, The League, Louie, Archer, and Justified. Currently, FX’s original series are trending towards the comedic with five of their eight series being firmly trenched in the comedy genre. Terriers blends comedy with the detective genre, following two unlicensed private detectives. Rescue Me, one of FX’s dramas, blends drama with dark comedy. FX also seems to be taking an interest in sports-themed shows with it’s current show The League which follows a groups of friends in a fantasy-football league and it’s upcoming show, Light’s Out which follows a former boxing champion and his struggles in life.[12]

Target Audience

FX's target audience is the coveted 18-49 range[13].  Their promotional techniques and show's subject matter can reflect this.  FX features a late-night programming block called Fully Baked. Fully Baked runs Louie, Archer, and its other original comedy series. This is seems to be an appeal to a young, hip audience who smokes pot. The programming block seems to say, Up late? High? Why not watch some premium FX comedy? It’s just what you need when you’re baked[14].  Also, shows on FX can tend to involve racy and sexual topics which would appeal to the younger audience FX wants.  FX also found the blockbuster films it aired attracted their desired target audience[15].

Feature Films

New hits include "Transformers 2," "Spider-Man 3," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and "Hellboy II"; family hits "Madagascar 2" and "Madagascar 3," "Monsters vs. Aliens," "Kung Fu Panda," "Horton Hears a Who" and "Shrek 4"; Oscar nominees "There Will Be Blood," "Changeling," "The Wrestler" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; upcoming releases such as "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," "2012," "Iron Man 2," "Captain America," "Thor" and "The Avengers"; and "Blockbuster" hits: "Tropic Thunder," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Iron Man," "27 Dresses," "Taken," "21," "Vantage Point," "Marley & Me," "Wanted," "Eagle Eye," "Beowulf," "Superbad," "Bride Wars," "Baby Mama," "Hancock," "Step Brothers," "Pineapple Express," "Jumper," "Cloverfield," "What Happens in Vegas," "The Incredible Hulk," "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" and more.[16]

Scheduling and Promotional Techniques

FX only has a few apparent scheduling techniques. In 2009, The League premiered following It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Thursday nights[17]. This strategy follows in 2010 in an effort to retain It’s Always Sunny’s audience for The League. The fact that they placed the shows on Thursday may be an effort to piggy-back off of the comedic programming that runs on NBC every Thursday from 8-10 pm. Viewers of the comedies on NBC may find it easy to continue their night of comedy for another hour by simply changing the channel to FX.

FX uses their wide range of movies and off-network re-runs to lead into their original programming. Currently, FX uses Two and a Half Men to lead into their original comedy series. FX began scheduling movies more heavily than off-network re-runs when ratings were poor for off-network re-runs and when it was discovered that movies pull in a younger audience than the re-runs. By utilizing the movies, FX attracts more of the 18-49 target audience and is able to slip in promos for their original programming through the film[18].

FX’s promotional strategies expand to clips and episodes available for viewing on their website as well as a presence on youtube, myspace, and facebook[19]. They have also performed public stunts such as holding a live rendition of the musical “The Nightman Cometh” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia[20].

Production, Distribution, Transmission

     The FX Network has a hand in the production of all their shows through either the FX Production Company or Fox 21. These are two production studios owned and operated by Fox which are directly involved with the production of all their shows. The level of involvement and preparation that each show requires, however, varies greatly.
     For example, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” was created by Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day with only a handheld video camera and a $200.00 budget.[21] The actors are the creators and they are responsible for all creativity. Despite such inconspicuous conception, it has become wildly successful, and rules the primetime 10pm spot on FX’s Thursday night lineup.
In contrast to “Sunny’s” streamlined production, it takes one month to create an episode of Archer. Floyd County Productions in Atlanta Georgia is responsible for creating concept sketches, while Trinity Animation in Kansas receives these sketches and translates them into three dimensional images. Then animators and illustrators storyboard the entire episode and apply the voices of the actors, recorded in Hollywood. The actors are removed from the experience beyond their voice recording (
     FX partners with production companies beyond those owned by Fox. To produce “It’s Always Sunny” FX collaborates with Bluebush Productions, 3 Art Entertainment, RCH, and Sunny Television Productions.[22] RCH and Sunny Television Productions deal solely with “It’s Always Sunny”. Bluebush Productions works exclusively with FX shows and it has helped shepherd “Damages” and “30 Days” to the air as well. 3 Art Entertainment, on the other hand, has dabbled in many projects. They are responsible for such theatrical hits as “Girl, Interrupted”, “Down to Earth” and “Constantine”. They have also produced dozens of episodes of “King of the Hill”. Compare this to the production company Actual Reality, responsible for FX’s show “30 Days”. They have a much less conspicuous resume. Their most notable achievement is their eleven episode stint with “Greatest American Dog.” “30 Days” also uses a production company called Warrior Poets. Initially, Warrior Poets was created to produce “30 Days” in 2005 but they have since produced 7 other documentaries without commercial success.[23] Their 2007 documentary, “What Would Jesus Buy?” only grossed one hundred and ninety six thousand dollars and used a two million dollar budget.[24]
      The FX channel is carried in some ninety six million homes.[25] FX transmits shows throughout the United States, UK (Bravo Television, Fiver), Japan (WOWOW), Hungary (Viasat 3, Comedy Central), Norway (FEM), Estonia (TV3), Romania (AXN), Greece, Belgium, Germany (Sony Pictures), Finland, Canada (CanWest), Argentina (LK-TEL) and Italy. They broadcast on the internet as well through the News Corporation’s merger with Comcast - check for free episodes on either or[26] FX may lose some fourteen million viewers due to a dispute with Dish Network.[27] Fox is also threatening to pull their programming from Time Warner which could affect up to thirty million viewers in thirteen million households.[28] FX continues to reache a huge audience through cable/satellite/internet systems.[29] Even with such business disputes, FX reaches a huge audience and remains FOX’s premier channel for original programming.

Current Programs on FX

Malcolm in the Middle

The Bernie Mac Show

Two and a half men

Spin City

That 70’s Show

The Practice


Lights Out (Premieres January 2011)

The League

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Sons of Anarchy




Rescue Me

30 days (Completed)

Nip/Tuck (Completed)

The Shield (Completed)

Textual Analysis


Form and Content

Construction of Target Audience

Cultural Meanings and Brand Identity

Production History

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Form and Content
Construction of Target Audience
Cultural Meanings and Brand Identity
Production History


  1. Wen, Howard. “TV Made Unfresh Daily.” Wired. September 1995.
  2. “Peter Liguori.” Discovery Communications Inc,. October 6, 2010.
  3. Schneider, Michael. “The Two Faces of Fox.” Variety. Reed Elseiver Inc. March 26, 2005.
  4. “FX Networks.” Hoover’s, Inc. October 6, 2010.
  5. Walkter, Hunter. “FX Picks Up Rights to ‘Social Network,’ ‘Wall Street 2.’” The Wrap. The Wrap News, Inc. October 5, 2010.
  6. Elliot, Stuart. “Box? We Don’t Need No Box.” Media Decoder. The New York Times. December 11, 2007.
  7. Umstead, R. Thomas. “A New RX for FX.” Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  8. Rose, Lacey. “At FX There Is Still No Box.” The Biz Blog. Forbes. 18 Jan. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
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  10. Amazon. The Internet Movie Database, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
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  12. FX networks. FX Networks, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  13. Umstead, R. Thomas. “A New RX for FX.” Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  14. Although no examples of the advertising for "Fully Baked" were available in print or on the web, the ads usually air during It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia on thursdays at 10 P.M.
  15. Umstead, R. Thomas. “A New RX for FX.” Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  16. Eisenhardt, Rob. "FX Network." Ad Age. Crain Communications, Inc. October 6, 2010.
  17. FX networks. FX Networks, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  18. Umstead, R. Thomas. “A New RX for FX.” Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  19. FX networks. FX Networks, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  20. FX networks. FX Networks, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
  21. Jones, Bryan. “Comedy Central Grabs ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’ For Syndication.” TV Overmind. Ultimate Magazine. October 22, 2009.
  22. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” October 6, 2010.
  23. “Warrior Poets.” October 6, 2010.
  24. “What Would Jesus Buy?” October 6, 2010.
  25. “FX Networks, LLC.” News Corporation. June 8, 2010.
  26. “News Corporation, NBC Universal and Comcast Reach Strategic Online Video Distribution and Content Agreement.” News Corporation. June 8, 2010.
  27. Nakashima, Ryan. “FX, NatGeo, Fox regional sports channels, MSG dropped from Dish in fight over fees.” Star Tribune. October 1, 2010.
  28. Deggans, Eric. “Fox TV owner News Corp. threatens to pull stations from Time Warner Cable.” St. Petersburg Times. December 19, 2009.
  29. Direct Tv Inc. Direct TV, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.