• Why Isn’t FX a Premium Network?

    by  • September 20, 2015 • Advertiser Accountability, Cable Choice, Profanity, Sex, Violence, Worst Cable Show of the Week • 12 Comments

    For over a decade, the FX basic cable network has reveled in the most explicit programming – and forced every subscriber to pay for it.

    The Shield. Nip/Tuck. Rescue Me. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Archer. Sons of Anarchy.  American Horror Story. The Bastard Executioner. Since 2002, the FX basic cable network has been committed to pushing the most extreme content imaginable into every home with a cable or satellite subscription.  

    In fact, FX has made it part of their brand to make certain every one of their programs is stuffed with content that requires a rating of TV-MA, for mature audiences only. Though often lauded by critics, these extreme programs generally draw small audiences. And yet, because they are placed on the basic cable tier, every cable and satellite subscriber in America is forced to pay for FX’s ultra-graphic content, whether or not they want it or watch it. They’re even required to pay for it if they object to it!

    Contrast this with HBO. That network shows programming every bit as extreme as anything shown on FX; yet, in order to see it, an individual must not only have cable or satellite, but must deliberately choose to “opt in” and pay an additional fee for the programming.

    It’s easy to guess what went through the minds of FX’s marketing team a decade or more ago: “Let’s make HBO programming…but force everyone to pay for it!”

    The PTC doesn’t object to adults watching the programming they want. We do object to people being forced to pay for something they never use, don’t want, and even find offensive.

    It is long past time to state the obvious: if FX wants to be HBO, then the network should move to a premium tier, as HBO has. If FX wants to create the ultra-graphic programming HBO does, then give viewers a choice as to whether or not to pay for it – like HBO does.




    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    12 Responses to Why Isn’t FX a Premium Network?

    1. Doris Sesock
      September 4, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      When I watch HBO, Showtime, etc., I know to expect language, nudity and so on. What I am shocked about is tonight turning to FX airing a new series with “f__k” you in every other scene. This is unacceptable to many people and it shouldn’t be shown at 9:00 pm when kids may still be watching.

    2. brandon
      September 28, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      I don’t understand the big deal, FX only charges $0.60 per subscriber. $0.60 is nothing. What is the point of getting upset over $0.60? Comedy Central and MTV actually charge less than $0.60 per subscriber. Most of your subscriber money is actually going to sports channels, ESPN in particular charges $5.54 per subscriber. So PTC members get upset they have to pay for material they don’t approve of, but the actual amount that goes to those channels is so small and inconsequential there really isn’t a point in getting upset. Almost all of the subscriber money is going to PtC approved channels!

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        September 30, 2015 at 3:58 pm


        No, 60 per person per month isn’t a lot. Per year, that’s only $7.20 per person. But now multiply that by the 100 MILLION cable subscribers in America…all of whom are FORCED to pay for this channel, none of whom get a choice. That’s right: FX is making 720 MILLION dollars a year forcing people to pay for stuff they don’t want. More actually, since what used to be one channel — FX — recently split into FX, FXX, and Fox Movies. So now people have to pay for THREE channels they don’t want, instead of one.

        You may not mind people being forcibly robbed of over a billion dollars a year to fund garbage like The Bastard Executioner; but others do. And they’re entitled to their say, too.

        • james heller
          November 16, 2015 at 8:23 pm

          what’s wrong with the bastard executioner? You do have a choice, you got cable, you don’t have to pay for cable.

        • Ryan G Smith
          March 7, 2016 at 7:05 am

          Forcibly robbed?


          Did someone put a gun up to your head and force you to have cable television?

          Every single one of you whiners has the choice to not pay for these channels. If you don’t like the content of the cable packages, be a responsible adult and don’t buy cable.

          • Mike
            April 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm

            So Ryan is saying that if you are not allowed to have cable television if you don’t like the content? In other words, he is saying he has more rights than anyone else. Maybe he should start by being a responsible adult. People should have a right to choose what they want in their cable packages. They should not be forced to have what they don’t want. By saying they should not buy cable because they don’t like the content is truly saying people should be forced to accept it regardless. The only ones that have a right to enjoy cable are people like him.

            • Nikhil
              February 11, 2019 at 6:33 pm

              No, but some FX watchers are also paying for programming and channels they do not watch and will want to not pay for. Consider this A wants 10 channels that they consume and B wants 15, several of them different from what A wants. Both are willing to pay a dollar each for their channels. But very likely both will buy from a service that offers 30 channels at $.3 a program. This economics is at work. Where deviating from the current arrangement makes all parties worse

    3. Cindy Benson
      September 25, 2015 at 8:20 am

      I think all television viewing should be alla carte. No one should be forced to pay for what they don’t want

    4. Carol Threatt
      September 25, 2015 at 7:58 am

      The garbage that basic cable subscribers are forced to support is proof that Hollywood values or lack thereof, continue to win in a culture that is becoming a cesspool. If it weren’t for my husband who looks forward to live sports, we would not have televisions at all.
      It’s sad that people no longer have the power to decide what streams into their homes.

      • September 26, 2015 at 11:51 am

        That is because the LIBERAL HOLLYWOOD live with those kind of programs and our society is getting worse and no class.

    5. Robert
      September 24, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Are television companies able to have the power as to whether or not their station is basic cable or premium? For example, many cable providers make FXX premium, even if Fox originally wanted to carry it as a basic cable channel, I have heard.

      Also, the thing about cable choice that I am not so sure about is that it will be too similar to what parents are already able to do via parental controls which is block stations. Also, while it might seem innocent enough to pick and choose which stations seem appropriate for families, companies can pull a fast one on viewers by “rebranding” their network, so that the channel they ordered is different. Also, many channels that air age-appropriate entertainment also air programming that is unsuitable. For example, during the daytime Nick Jr. airs shows like “Yo Gabba Gabba” kids can enjoy, but later at night it shows things like “Impastor” which are inappropriate for kids. Cartoon Network does this as well, as does Nick (remember “Glenn Martin, DDS”?) and other stations. FX also airs content like “Kung Fu Panda” which is appropriate for kids. I’m not so sure…

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