Friday, October 20, 2017

FX Networks CEO: TV at risk of ominous state of monopoly

By on August 9, 2017

By Lynn Elber

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The peak TV era of expanding programming choices is at risk of moving into an ominous state of monopoly, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said.

Viewers and those who make shows could be the ultimate losers, he said.

“I don’t want artists to find themselves in a situation where there’s only two buyers that matter,” Landgraf told a TV critics’ meeting Wednesday.

John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions, participates in the executive panel during the FX Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Painting a dark picture of the broader U.S. economy, he argued that it’s beset by a lack of market regulation that has allowed “one sector after another to be swallowed by a single company or a tiny handful of companies,” from airlines to retail to social media.

FX Networks and others are in a battle with newcomers including Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV that operate under an economic model that rewards increasing the scale of domination over current profits, Landgraf said.

For those wondering what’s behind more TV shows than anyone can watch, “understand that a good share of that programming is being produced at a loss, in the belief that it will drive a massive shift in the share of consumption” that will swamp competitors, he said.

“It’s a stiff headwind for anybody,” he said, including other cable outlets such as AMC and HBO.

But there’s value in FX’s curation of carefully selected and produced shows, such as “The Americans” and “American Horror Story,” he said.

He continued sounding the alarm about a saturated TV market. The latest tally indicates the number of shows this year could top 500, even before Apple TV dives fully into the game, Landgraf said.

FX Networks announced this week it’s increasing its availability to viewers with FX+, offering a library of its programming on demand and without commercials for $5.99 per month. The service will roll out on Sept. 5 for Comcast customers but deals are being negotiated with other providers, Landgraf said.

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