First American soccer lost its biggest star, British import David Beckham, now it is about to lose its dedicated cable channel. Fox Networks is planning to relaunch its Fox Soccer Channel as an FX-branded entertainment cable network, a sibling to the cable network that airs Sons Of Anarchy, Louie and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Information about the plan, which is in advanced stages and is already being presented to ad buyers to gauge their interest, was reported by Broadcast & Cable and the LA Times. According to sources, the FX offshoot, dubbed FXX, would be geared towards younger viewers with an emphasis on comedy, creating a cable tandem similar to TNT-TBS where TNT is more older-skewing and drama-focused and TBS goes for younger viewers with comedies. Like its big brother FX, FXX would feature original programming, in addition to some repurposed shows and theatrical movies from FX and fellow sibling FX Movie Channel. There is talk about moving some younger-skewing comedy series from FX to FXX to further differentiate the two networks’ identities. Fox has yet to begin talks with MSO and satellite operators about switching Fox Soccer Channel and its 75 million homes to FXX.
The future of the Fox Soccer Channel had been in limbo ever since Fox and ESPN in October lost the rights to the English Premier League to NBC and its fledgling NBC Sports Network. The remaining soccer programming on Fox Soccer Channel is expected to be folded into Fox’s planned national sports cable network, tentatively named Fox Sports 1, that would compete with ESPN. A spokesman for Fox Networks said in a statement, “We are constantly evaluating our programming offerings and this is just one notion we have considered over the past year or so,” declining further comment.
Kurt Sutter, the colorful creator and showrunner of FX’s biker drama hit Sons of Anarchy, is never one to miss an opportunity to defend the honor of his show and his network. He’s gotten into hot water in the past for speaking a bit too passionately on Twitter, so he took down his account. Now Sutter has leaped into the fray on his personal blog, Sutter Ink, to voice his displeasure with DirecTV for what he perceives as the satcaster holding Fox’s cable networks (including FX) hostage in a carriage dispute that could result in the nets being dropped by DirecTV on November 1. FX enlisted Sutter to film a promo urging fans to weigh in but didn’t let him use his prepared, profanity-laden script. But that didn’t stop Sutter from posting on his blog the entire promo writeup that includes lines like, “DirecTV is shutting down all conversation and using their customers as leverage. In the process, you’re getting fucked over.” Sutter also took time to praise FX chief John Landgraf. “If it weren’t for that guy,” Sutter wrote, “I’d be selling star maps and handjobs in front of the Motherlode.”
Here’s the full text of Sutter’s typically passionate post:
I just did a promo that will air before Tuesday night’s episode. It’s aim is to mobilize fans against DirecTV. But they refused to let me speak honestly, I had to follow an FX legal script that felt like complete bullshit. I’m sure it will serve it’s purpose, but I feel compelled to let SOA fans know what I WANTED to say.
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With a November 1 deadline looming, News Corp. today purchased a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times sports section warning DirecTV customers that the satcaster was poised to drop nine networks if Fox’s … Read More »
Another major carriage dispute threatens to pull Fox’s cable networks from DirecTV systems on November 1. The affected networks include FX (including its hit Sons Of Anarchy and hot newcomer American Horror Story), National Geographic Channel, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Soccer, Fox Movie Channel, Fox Deportes, and the 19 Fox regional sports networks. Fox Networks’ previous carriage agreement with DirecTV expired on September 30. After extending the talks, no progress was made, leading to a standoff between the two sides that may lead to the blackout. Exactly a year ago, the same networks went dark on DirecTV’s rival satcaster Dish Network before the two sides finally reached a new agreement. Like in previous carriage fights, both sides released dueling statements and launched competing websites — KeepMyNets.com (Fox) and OurPromiseToYou.com (DirecTV). In its statement, DirecTV claims that Fox is seeking a 40% license-fee increase. Here are the two statements: Read More »
UPDATE: Fox Networks and Dish Network are yet to start talks about restoring FX, National Geographic Channel and 19 regional sports networks on Dish systems. The cable networks were pulled at midnight after the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a new carriage deal, with talks breaking off shortly before the midnight deadline. In the meanwhile, accusations are flying from both sides. “Fox is demanding a new contract with an unprecedented rate increase of more than 50 percent,” Dish said in a statement. “Fox has flatly refused DISH Network’s request to allow customers to continue to watch these Fox channels during the negotiations.” Fox is vigorously disputing both claims, calling the 50% figure “absurd” and stating that it was Dish that refused to keep the networks on while negotiations continue and it never asked for an extension of the two sides’ existing deal. “The proposal we’ve offered DISH is fair and in line with the tremendous value we provide,” Fox Networks said in a statement. With the carriage dispute on the cable side escalating, Fox and Dish have not even started discussing a new retransmission consent agreement for the Fox stations as the current one expires at the end of the month. Those talks will certainly include a demand for retransmission consent fees by Fox, something that put the company at odds with Time Warner Cable in December and threatened the network’s coverage of the college football championship games. Similarly, the end of Fox stations’ agreement with Dish will coincide with the network’s coverage of the World Series. Read More »