It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia scored about 757,000 viewers in its season debut on FXX last night at 10 PM – fumbling nearly 300,000 viewers compared to its previous season debut on FX network. But, the show logged 30,000 more 18- to 34-year-old guys than it had with its last season debut on FX, so FXX’s is calling it a win, since that’s the new network’s target audience (it shed 125,000 women 18-34). FX comedies Sunny and The League last night made the move to FXX in order to populate the new comedy network spinoff. In making the move, The League, at 10:30 PM, gave up about 121,000 viewers, debut to debut — about 22,000 of them men 18-34. FXX is currently available in 26 million fewer homes than is FX. After that, the nightly debut of Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell at 11 PM clocked an average of 183,000 viewers — 90,000 of them in the 18-34 age bracket, which is a 59% retention of that demo compared to the show’s last weekly cycle.
FXX this afternoon noted Sunny and The League outstripped ABC, CBS and NBC from 10-11 PM in adults 18-34 and men 18-34. “To have just launched the channel three days ago and get these ratings is thrilling”, FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf said this afternoon. … Read More »
Jon Lajoie, one of the leads of the FX seriesThe League, becomes the latest celebrity to try and exploit his fan base by using Kickstarter to empower a passion project. Only here, the passion project is Lajoie’s personal bank account. Now, even though this is played for laughs, and despite all the coverage we’ve done for the Kickstarter-empowered Zach Braff and the Veronica Mars movie projects, Jon encapsulates pretty much how I still feel about millionaires tapping the unwashed masses to kick in funding that will underwrite projects these people couldn’t coin in the traditional way. These are projects that will possibly make the rich even richer, while donors get tchotchkes of negligible value, with no chance to share in the financial upside. Have I become Grumpy Cat (whose movie will be financed the traditional way) or does my cynicism here have value?
Three of FX’s comedy series — flagship It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The League and Legit — will help launch new sibling FXX (formerly Fox Soccer), along with late-night show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Sunny, The League and Legit have been renewed for Season 10, 6 and 2, respectively. Additionally, Totally Biased will expand to five nights a week after it moves to FXX when the network launches September 2. The plan for FXX is to start with four original comedy series and one late-night show. The fourth original comedy will likely come from one of FX’s half-hour pilots, FX president John Landgraf said. Live talk show Brand X With Russell Brand will be moving over to FXX if the show returns for a third season. Langraf said a decision on that would made in the next few months. The new network’s original offerings will go up to six comedy series by the second year and to gradually introduce dramas.
Ahead of tonight’s hourlong Season 4 finale of The League, FX has renewed the fantasy football league comedy series for a fifth season with a 13-episode order. “The League is flat-out one of the funniest shows on television,” said FX’s EVP Original Programming Nick Grad. “Another season was an easy decision and we hope to have it on our schedule for many more years to come.” On a first-run basis, Season 4 is averaging 1.63 million total viewers and 1.45 million adults 18-49. On a multi-run total basis, the fourth season is delivering about 2.43 million Total Viewers and 2.09 million Adults 18-49 per week. “It’s a dream job — we get to make a show we love with a brilliant cast on a fearless network,” said Jackie Schaffer, who co-created the series with husband Jeff Schaffer. “If the Mayans and Dirty Randy are right and the world ends tomorrow, at least we can say we made it to Season 5.” Read More »
Writers Joseph Balsamo and Peter Ciancarelli say the network ripped off The Leaguefrom their The Commissioner. In a nine-page civil complaint (read it here) filed last week in New York, the pair claim FX and League co-creator-executive producer Jeff Schaffer, also named as a defendant, lifted significant elements of the duo’s series about a group of friends who form a fantasy football league. “Given the numerous and striking similarities between the two works, there can be no dispute that defendants Schaffer and/or FX had access to and copied protectable elements of the treatment,” the suit says. The suit then outlined 10 similarities between the two works. The plaintiffs filed Commissioner with the WGA back in 2006 and put the script online soon afterwards in an effort to attract attention. The League, created by Schaffer and wife Jackie Marcus Schaffer (who is not named as a defendant), has been on FX since October 2009.
Jeff and Jackie Schaffer, the showrunners for FX’s The League, had to deal with an NFL lockout which delayed production of the 3rd season episodes of their comedy about a group of friends obsessed with fantasy football. Then the October 6th season premiere, with guest star Seth Rogen, was the show’s most-watched telecast ever for women 18-34 and its third most-watched among total viewers. FX has just renewedThe League for a fourth season. The Schaffers talked to Deadline contributor Diane Haithman the day after this season’s premiere:
DEADLINE: OK, I have to admit major sports ignorance - how do you play fantasy football? JACKIE SCHAFFER: We’re always happy to explain it, because clearly we’re obsessed. JEFF: Fantasy football is actually an amazing American pastime, because it takes the ultimate team sport, NFL and football, and turns it into the quest for individual achievement. Your fantasy team can be pulled from any team in the NFL. You can have Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, but you can also have Matt Forte, the running back of the Chicago Bears. And how they do is how you do. If your running back scores a touchdown, you get those six points. And you play head to head with the other people in your league. What this is really about is gloating and bragging rights. The heart of every league is the message board where you can just trash-talk and dredge up any embarrassing thing about any of your friends since you guys were in high school. That’s what we always say about the show: You don’t have to like fantasy football, you just have to have friends that you hate. Fantasy football leagues become a social unit. It’s a way for old friends, high school friends, or people at work, or families to get together. It’s like a book club, except you would never tell people in your book club to take a ride on your suck stick.
DEADLINE: Why did you think fantasy sports would make a good comedy series? JEFF: We thought it would be an opportunity to explore what friends are really like, especially friends with deep history. It doesn’t matter if you are now a successful doctor or lawyer, your friends are going to dredge up stuff you did when you were 13 and will never live down, and what better way to do that than in the form of fantasy football? JACKIE: In the television business, I don’t think anyone will let you go in and pitch a show unless you use the words ‘organizing principle’ or ‘this is the prism through which we see their lives’. Everything needs a hook. This is something that provides a great way to see people interact. Every week, because there’s a game to be won and rankings, there are always winners and losers. Watching people experience victory and defeat week after week in different combinations is a great dynamic for the show.
DEADLINE: Do enough people play fantasy football to make this a viable TV series? JEFF: People always say to us: ‘It’s such a niche show’. But 35 million people aren’t a niche. There aren’t 35 million doctors or lawyers or priests that solve crimes, but there are plenty of shows about them. Whether you are in a league or not, everyone knows someone who is in one or acting like a maniac during a meaningless game because they want to beat their friends. Read More »
FX has picked up a fourth season of The League with a 13-episode order. The comedy series is hitting series-high ratings across the board in its current third season. It is averaging 1.7 million total viewers and 1.5 million adults 18-49, up 25% and 32, respectively, vs. Season 2. “The League continues to be one of our most successful comedy series both creatively and from a ratings standpoint,” said FX’s EVP Nick Grad. “(Creators) Jackie and Jeff Schaffer, along with our terrific cast, are doing wonderful work each week to make one of the funniest shows on television and we’re excited to order another season.” There are three episodes left in its current season: Episode 11, The Guest Bong, airs Thursday at 10:30 PM.
How did the producers of FX’s comedy The League spent their recent hiatus? Praying that there will be a football season as their show revolves around a fantasy football league and working on a contingency plan in case the NFL and the players didn’t come to deal. “Plan B revolved around the guys losing their minds,” co-creator Jeff Schaffer said during a TCA panel for the show today. “Poor Andre (Paul Scheer) would’ve put all of his heart and soul into Fantasy NBA,” a reference to another professional sport whose season is in jeopardy. “The truth is … we prayed that there would be football, we desperately, desperately wanted there to be football, and we waited. And we waited and waited. FX was cool with us pushing our shooting date and the airdate so that we could make sure (there will be a football season).” With the labor dispute resolved just recently, the series is now so early in production on Season 3 that some of the footage in the promo reel shown was shot last night, Schaffer said. The uncertainty surrounding the NFL season over the past few months will be reflected on the show. “The lockout will be addressed front and center in the Oct. 6 season premiere — along with all of their opinions about it,” said co-creator Jackie Marcus Schaffer. The premiere also will feature Seth Rogen playing Rafi’s (Jason Mantzoukas) much-talked-about (but never seen) infamous friend Dirty Randy. Read More »
From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:
In the final executive session of the TCA confab in Pasadena on Saturday morning, FX president and GM John Landgraf acknowledged that he’s disappointed in the ratings for the premiere last week of the network’s latest drama series — the boxing-themed Lights Out — and continued to do post-mortems on the demise of Terriers but he remains undaunted going forward, stressing, “We’ve had six critically acclaimed shows and four ratings successes, one failure and one unknown. You can’t bat .1000 in this business. That’s just the way it is.”
Landgraf cautioned that it’s far too early to dismiss Lights Out as a failure after just a single airing. “It was tremendously acclaimed. We’re disappointed by the premiere ratings, but we’ll be running it as planned. There’s (rarely) been a scripted series on television about boxing, and this is a very good one…(But) no matter how good the show is, the question is, ‘Are they somebody’s first choice? Are they good enough to overcome massive competition in the marketplace?’ I can’t tell you what will happen over he next 12 weeks. Premieres are very important, but shows also find audiences over time. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Maybe we should have made a show about a zombie or a sexy vampire trying to regain the heavyweight title of the world,” he quipped, referring to the runaway ratings success of two other … Read More »
How often does a scripted series hit an all-time ratings high in Season 6? Well, FX’s comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia just did it with its sixth season premiere last night. Also breaking series records was the network’s comedy The League, which opened its second season behind Sunny. At 10 PM, Sunny delivered 1.83 million adults 18-49 and 1.46 million adults 18-34, up 3% from the previous series demo highs posted by last season’s premiere. In the male demographics, the gains from the Season 5 premiere were bigger, 16% in Men 18-34 (1.01 million) and 11% in Men 18-49 (1.24 million), both all-time series highs. The total viewership, 2.21 million, was was off by 1% in Live+same day but is expected to be a series best when Live+7 data is factored in.
Season two premiere of The League at 10:30 PM was up 76% in Adults 18-49 (1.38 million), 63% in Adults 18-34 (994,000) and 72% in total viewers (1.71 million) from its debut last year, with series highs across the board. It retained 77% of the Sunny in Philadelphia’s lead-in in total viewers and 76% in 18-49.
That’s certainly great news for FX, which also is enjoying ratings success with Sons of Anarchy but its new PI drama Terriers has been a ratings disappointment. After its low-rated premiere last week that drew a 0.5 rating in 18-49, Episode 2 on Wednesday fell even further to 0.4.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadine’s TCA coverage.
Six episodes. Twenty days. That was the decidedly accelerated time frame of shooting last year on the FX fantasy football comedy The League, admitted co-creator Jeff Schaffer at a panel promoting the show’s second season premiere (it has 13 episodes this time) in September. But his wife and collaborator, Jackie Schaffer, added that when it comes to the numbers, the two are much more attuned to the production schedule than the ratings, “We’d try to figure out the ratings by reading the faces of the people at FX, or their tone of voice when they’d call us on Friday morning. That seemed to work for us.”
It worked well enough to get the series renewed despite the incredulous reactions Jeff Schaffer would get when he told people he produced a series about fantasy league football — and a partially-scripted, semi-improvised one at that. “There are shows about people who bake cakes and shows about people who drive trucks on icy roads,” said Schaffer, who is also a writer-producer on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. “I don’t know anyone who drives a truck in the Yukon, but I know a lot of guys who play fantasy football — me included.” In order to appreciate his show, Schaffer reasons, “you don’t need to know anything about fantasy football or even sports. You just need to have friends you hate.”
Jackie Schaffer said she believes one of the factors that generated an audience for The League and stoked its … Read More »
FX is taking a jump on fall season, rolling out its fall premieres in the two weeks before the broadcast networks unleash their new/returning series. Biker drama Sons of Anarchy returns for Season 3 on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 10 PM, while new PI comedic drama Terriers, from Ted Griffin and Shawn Ryan, will make its debut the following night, Sept. 8, at 10 PM. I’m curious to see how a lighter procedural, a genre that is so hot in cable via USA and now TNT and A&E, will do on FX, probably the grittiest basic cable brand in the hourlong arena. As for comedies, Season 6 of the channel’s veteran It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premieres Thursday, Sept. 16, at 10 PM, followed by the second season debut of The League at 10:30 PM.