(Right now, you’ll spot an odd convergence of stories about FX. That’s because the network has been holding back, waiting to start its “FX on Hulu” hub. Now is the time; highlighted here are stories on FX’s “Breeders” and “Devs”; one on “Dave” is coming. But the story here pauses to take an overview of the hub, including future shows — “Mrs. America” is shown here, with Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly — and ones this week. Here we go:)
There’s a new streaming service – yes, another one – out there.
Or you might call it a semi-service – a hub to something that was already there. Either way, “FX on Hulu” is a major player.
“We see this as a transformative opportunity for the FX brand,” said John Landgraf, the FX CEO.
His shows – from “The Shield” and “Sons of Anarchy” to “Fargo” and “Atlanta” – have drawn rapturous (usually) reviews and modest (often) ratings. But now they have a second platform, on Hulu – where they’ll be joined by some shows that FX produces only for Hulu.
The hub is part of the overall Hulu service, with a monthly rate of $6 … or $13 for a bundle with Disney+ and ESPN+ … ot $55 for a package with live TV, designed to compete with cable.
(In all cases, we’re rounding up by a penny. Also, it takes an extra $6 a month to eliminate commercials. And there’s a free one-month trial period.)
What you’ll find there are:
– A few shows that FX is producing, but will only be on Hulu. That starts with two mini-series: “Devs” (arriving Thursday) is full of high-tech, alternate-reality moments; “Mrs. America” (April 15), viewing the failed push for an Equal Rights Amendments, is stuffed with stars – Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth Banks, Rose Byrne, Sarah Paulson, many more. Coming are “A Teacher” this summer and Jeff Bridges’ “The Old Man” this fall.
– The regular shows, which reach Hulu the day after they’re on FX or FXX. This week has two new ones – the hilarious “Breeders” Monday (March 2) on FX and the offbeat “Dave” Wednesday on FXX. It also has two season-openers, both on Thursday – “Better Things” on FX and “Cake” on FXX. Each is at 10 p.m., with two episodes the first week. Coming soon are FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows” (April 15) and “Fargo” (April 19) and FXX’s “Archer” (May 6).
– Some non-fiction. That starts at 8 p.m. Frida on FX (going to Hulu on Saturday), with the four-hour “Most Dangerous Animal of All.”
– And the FX library. Landgraf said that includes “almost every current and past season of FX original series …. There will be more than 40 shows, so nearly the entire FX brand will be available.”
Many of those are dramas, part of a cable surge. “Since ‘Sopranos,’ TV’s been the natural home of adult drama,” said Alex Garland, the “Devs” writer-director. “So I end up watching a lot of television.”
And FX’s role in that? Landgraf had his staff tabulate all the critics’ lists of the best shows of the decade. He found that 14 percent – that’s about one-seventh – were from FX or FXX.
“FX on Hulu” has the past seasons of shows mentioned here, plus “Atlanta,” “Justified,” “Archer,” “American Horror Story,” “Snowfall,” “Mayans M.C.,” “Fosse/Verdon,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and more.
Landgraf’s people have had a reputation for quality. “Like, 85 percent of the notes I get from FX, I’m like, ‘They’re totally right,’” said Dave Burd, the “Dave” creator and star.
But this has been a tough stretch for basic-cable networks, with streamers sapping their audience. Last year, the FX ratings dropped 22 percent. “It’s my No. 1 dream, that more people can see the show,” said Pamela Adlon, producer-director-writer-star of the much-praised “Better Things.”
Now this corporate boost could help: When Disney bought the Fox movie studio, it also got several cable channels, plus Fox’s share of Hulu. That gives it controlling interest of Hulu, which is already known for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Ramy,” “Castle Rock” and (arriving Friday) the Hillary Clinton documentary.
The National Geographic channels, which are family-friendly, became a Disney+ hub; now the FX ones are a Hulu hub.
That provides a shot at younger viewers, Landgraf said. Months before the hub started, the new “Christmas Carol” ran in two places; its Hulu audience was 17 years younger than its FX one.
For FX, which is in 85 million homes, the Hulu link will be helpful, Landgraf said. “With a new 30-million-ish homes and growing, (FX will) penetrate deeper into American culture.”