FX+, the ad-free offering for cable and satellite subscribers of FX Networks that rolled out in 2017, will shut down on Aug. 21, as new parent company Disney prioritizes driving more FX content toward Hulu.
FX Networks confirmed the closing, first revealed on the FX+ website, telling Adweek in a statement: “On Aug. 21, FX Networks will cease operation of its direct-to-consumer nonlinear service, FX+. We deeply appreciate every fan of FX original series who subscribed to our service, and we are more optimistic and excited than ever about FX’s future as a key brand supporting the strategic priorities of The Walt Disney Company.”
In September 2017, FX began offering FX+, which enabled cable and satellite subscribers to the network to receive commercial-free access to all of FX and FXX’s current original series, as well as library content featuring almost every series that had previously aired on the networks, for an additional $6 a month. The company had discussed such an offering for “years,” Landgraf told Adweek at the time.
Initially, only Xfinity and some Cox Contour subscribers had been able to sign on for the offering, but last August FX opened up FX+ to all of its 90 million cable, satellite and streaming subscribers.
The offering had allowed FX to more directly take on competitors HBO and Netflix by giving subscribers the opportunity to watch its content without advertising. Around the same time, FX’s basic cable rival AMC rolled out a similar add-on offering, AMC Premiere, which gives current AMC subscribers ad-free access to current and some library titles for $5 per month.
AMC told Adweek it remains committed to AMC Premiere, even as FX+ prepares to shutter.
In February, prior to the Disney-Fox close, FX Networks chairman John Landgraf told Adweek, “I think FX+ will exist” despite Disney CEO Bob Iger’s publicly-stated plan to have FX provide more content for Hulu, which Disney would be acquiring a majority stake in as a result of the deal.
But any potential plans to keep FX+ intact likely changed in May, when Disney assumed full operational control over Hulu from Comcast in a deal that allows it to potentially buy the streaming service outright by 2024.
Speaking to reporters that same day, Landgraf said while “there’s a lot to be worked out” with the Hulu news, “about 40%” of Hulu subscribers use the ad-free option, and having FX content on a widely distributed platform like Hulu “really expands the dimensions of the brand and what we can do.”
That said, Landgraf reiterated that FX Networks won’t be leaving the basic cable space “any time soon,” adding, “we like the fact that we’re not just a service for people who can afford to pay a really, really expensive subscription.”
Soon after buying FX Networks and most of 21st Century Fox’s other assets in March, Disney immediately began tapping those new acquisitions to fortify its ambitious streaming strategy, which includes Hulu, ESPN+ and the upcoming Disney+ OTT service coming in November.
Disney+ will include all 30 seasons of The Simpsons, which have been available to stream on FX’s FX Now platform since 2014 but will move over to the new platform.
While the FX team built a digital home for Simpsons episodes and clips called Simpsons World that Landgraf is “really proud of,” the reality is that it was tied to the TV Everywhere authentication platform, which “is still not used by the majority of people who are customers in the MVPD system,” he said in May.
After Disney became its new parent company, “there was a feeling that we could radically improve the amount of usage we could get” with the non-linear rights, said Landgraf, who confirmed that the Simpsons World interface will move to Disney+ when that streaming service launches.
Now, by shuttering FX+, Disney is once again reallocating its new assets to align with its long-term strategy.