Assessing Broadcast/Cable TV’s Streaming Strategies For Adult Animation: FOX / FX Networks (2021)

For the next several weeks, we’re going to analyze broadcast networks and their strategies as it relates to streaming their original adult animation series for the widest possible audiences. With all of this talk about a “BOOM” in the industry, it’s high time we evaluate whether or not the networks are taking this industry seriously or is it all just a bunch of guff for shareholders. First up, let’s take a look at one-time sister networks FOX and FX Networks.

 

 

STRENGTHS

Courtesy: FOX

Immediacy of Content…and lots of it.

Whether it’s FX Networks or FOX, my favorite thing is waking up the next morning after a premiere knowing that if something fucked up happens on DVR, I have Hulu to back me up. Both companies take excellent advantage of advertising the fact that if you miss the premieres, they show up on Hulu the next day. In fact, FX has taken this one step further and introduced the likes of the FX on Hulu moniker, a template in which Disney has used across all of their streaming platforms to really organize their content to make finding new and archived content easy to find versus say a Netflix where I find myself often just going the “Search” route to find something.

With FOX going nuts in ordering new original primetime animated series, both Hulu and FOX offer great ways to introduce new intellectual properties and vice versa. With FOX Entertainment’s buy of Bento Box Entertainment, this has allowed the Murdoch-owned company to divest where new original series that they produce can be sold. Apple TV, Netflix, and even Hulu original series have all been landing spots with some sort of delineation of collaboration between 20th Television and either FOX Entertainment or it’s now owned Bento Box Entertainment. For FOX, this will eventually not be the way as the company has already started taking more ownership with original series to the point of removing partners altogether thereby taking in more profit.

For FX Networks, while FXX Network proper has had trouble finding a true companion for longtime stalwart Archer, FX Networks has been quietly cataloging entries from their live-action/animated short-form shorts series Cake. Want a slew of new animated content to watch? Well, how about the likes of Dicktown or Psychotown or Walt? Because right now you can go on Hulu and watch all of those series, a lot of which have upwards of a quarter-hour episodes each. In fact, you can almost find more quarter-hour content on Hulu when you add-in Adult Swim originals than say HBO MAX whose parent company WarnerMedia owns Adult Swim, a network that has been doing more quarter-hours than anyone else.


WEAKNESSES

Courtesy: FXX

Even with FX Networks ordering additional seasons of Archer, the clock is ticking on the longevity of the series. Series creator Adam Reed is doing something else, and talks of the production company unionizing could spell trouble as to how many more seasons of the Emmy-winning gem we truly have left. FX Networks is going to have to make a move soon on network head John Landgraf’s long-held promise of ordering additional adult animation entries for FXX, a network that is solely surviving on reruns of Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, and The Simpsons. 

With all of the talk of FOX Broadcasting going crazy in picking up adult animation originals, one ugly side-effect of premiering those on a broadcast network has been rearing it’s ugly head the last month or so…fucking NASCAR. That’s right, the “sport” where all you have to do is turn left in a car has a sordid history with the network having helped cancel the likes of King of the Hill, Sit Down, Shut Up, and The Cleveland Show with constant pre-empts and, more recently, full-on delays. With the network already doing a not very good job of promoting the Animation Domination lineup, the idea that the FOX network can sustain any sort of promotion for new series like The Great North only for the week of the premiere to be delayed is horseshit programming decisions that aren’t needed in a time when we have two additional FOX Sports Networks that literally do nothing but broadcast WWE SmackDown reruns. At least during the fall in the rare event that there are longer run-times of games, MLB will call a game after five innings or just make up the game at another time. Moreover, the FOX network usually leaves October devoid of Animation Domination originals, so it’s not like we’re missing a bunch if a playoff game goes long or is delayed entirely.

The other thing that FOX constantly does that annoys the shit out of me is reruns. Last weekend, not only did FOX give us yet another NASCAR-induced delay, but we also got hit with a rerun episode of Family Guy. Mind you, if I want to watch reruns of Family Guy on Sunday Nights, I also have Freeform and FXX to choose from because, for whatever reason, the Disney-owned networks think their viewership would somehow be improved going head-to-head with brand-new episodes of Family Guy. For FOX, there is no excuse not to have an original episode of Family Guy air from the Super Bowl to the season finale. 


 

OPPORTUNITIES

Courtesy: FOX

FOX came up with a great idea to have new Animation Domination originals premiere on Monday nights instead of Sunday nights, and I think this is a great idea and could be something to keep an eye out for the future. No sports air on Monday nights for FOX and I could give a shit less about any of their other programming, so maybe this can be a mainstay. Furthermore, with FOX’s recent buy of Tubi, I’ll be interested to see if this parlays to any original series streaming on the AVOD service. Animation Domination programming attempted to make like on Caffeine last year, but failed miserably thanks to awful production and a host in Andy Richter who seemed clearly checked out on most episodes.

For FX Networks, FX on Hulu could be a great way to continue to strengthen their run of original quarter-hours. 20th Television seems to be the preferred studio for half-hour animated originals for Disney-produced adult animation such as Solar Opposites and the recently announced Koala Manbut quarter-hour series need a home and Cake could continue to be a fantastic conduit to these for years to come.


THREATS

Courtesy: Warner Media

WarnerMedia looks promising, but has a puzzling schedule of which to air series on Adult Swim/TBS and then on their new streaming service HBO MAX. Even TBS Networks’ one ratings warrior American Dad heads to Hulu the next night. For whatever reason I can’t even stream the season three premiere of Adult Swim’s Final Space.

NBC Universal’s Syfy has an adult animation original lineup with no streaming plan in sight. They nearly had Spitting Image ordered to series last year, but backed out despite the fact that they have a Peacock streamer starving for original series.

ViacomCBS has been threatening the 8pm slots with hour-long South Park specials which could be the mandate for new episodes to come in the future coupled with a just-launched Paramount+ streaming service that may be light on South Park for the next five years, but will feature other Comedy Central original adult animation like the reboots of Ren & Stimpy and Beavis & Butt-Head. However, ViacomCBS networks can be a bit confusing as they have some original series on social channels with no promise of network syndication.  

So, right now, FOX/FX Networks has what we perceive to be the best broadcast-to-streamer plan going right now. The split between 20th Television and FOX Entertainment adult animation doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, and more originals are coming in a variety of ways on Hulu (mostly) leaving us to believe this is the best plan going, for now.

 

John Schwarz

John is the Chief Editor and Founder of Bubbleblabber.com. While at first a part-time project, Bubbleblabber quickly grew into a full-fledged operation and officially became a company in 2014. When John isn't running a business full-time, he likes to go to concerts with your mother.

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