Disney Shutting Down FX Plus Subscription ServiceVariety — Todd Spangler
The FX Plus subscription service is shutting down — another casualty of Disney’s acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox’s assets, and a move coming as FX’s content is set to get funneled into the Disney-controlled Hulu service.
FX Plus will no longer be available after Aug. 20, 2019, according to a notice on the service’s website. Initially launched two years ago with Comcast, FX Plus offered subscribers to the $5.99 monthly service ad-free access to more than 1,400 episodes of FX programming, including “Atlanta,” “American Horror Story,” “Damages,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The Shield,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Terriers.” FX Plus later added Cox Communications as an affiliate.
Current seasons of FX Networks’ original series will continue to air on the FX and FXX linear channels and be available for “limited-time on-demand viewing” in the FXNow app and online at FXNetworks.com through pay-TV subscriber authentication, according to the cable programmer.
In a statement, FX Networks said, “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.”
FX Plus was an effort to generate incremental revenue — and bolster viewer loyalty — without licensing the shows to streaming outlets like Netflix. FX Networks CEO John Landgraf has been outspoken not fueling the rise of direct-to-consumer streaming services with the network’s programming. When FX Plus was first announced, Landgraf said, “We have been diligent about recapturing the in-season stacking rights for all current original programming and recapturing the rights to all seasons of a large portion of our legacy of great original series.”
Disney’s strategy is to distribute FX programming via Hulu, which the Mouse House now fully controls. At Disney’s upfront preview in May, Landgraf noted that Hulu gives FX the option to distribute content ad-free as part of a larger service.
The shutdown of FX Plus also comes as Disney gears up for the launch of Disney Plus in November, a $6.99-per-month direct-to-consumer streaming service. Disney Plus will include all past seasons of “The Simpsons,” which has been available to stream on FX Networks’ FXNow service.
FX never disclosed how many subscribers FX Plus had signed up, but signs were that it wasn’t getting traction. In an interview with Variety published last month, Landgraf acknowledged that FX Plus was limited to existing pay-TV subscribers by cable carriage agreements and said it was “a rugged path” given that FX Networks has only a dozen or so current programs at any time.
“The ability to support what Disney is working to do in terms of building large aggregators that can get to very substantial audiences — big distribution is really exciting and is a much more viable pathway for us than trying to scale up a single branded service,” Landgraf said in the Variety interview.
According to FX’s customer-service site, FX Plus subscriptions will automatically end on Aug. 21, 2019. “There is no need to cancel your subscription. If you subscribe through your TV provider, your TV provider will discontinue billing you for the service,” the notice says.
Meanwhile, AMC Networks in 2017 launched a similar service, dubbed AMC Premiere, that strips out ads and is available only to customers of participating pay-TV operators. Priced at $4.99 per month, AMC Premiere is available through Comcast Xfinity, DirecTV, Dish Network, Charter Spectrum, Cox, Altice USA and Verizon Fios.
Pictured above: FX’s “Atlanta” starring Donald Glover