Post-Marathon, FXX Is Playing Smart With ‘Simpsons’ Programming
Coming off the massive success of FXX’s Simpsons marathon, the network is looking for ways to keep die-hard fans tuning in, and bring even more over to the still-young TV channel.
“There’s going to be an awful lot of curation and thematics,” said Chuck Saftler, president of program strategy and the man behind the much-touted marathon, which saw all of The Simpsons‘ 500-plus episodes screened back-to-back. “We want to create as diverse of a viewing experience as we possibly can.”
For now, some of FXX’s strategy lies in the aforementioned theme nights, which will occur on Thursdays and Sundays starting this week, the network said. Thursday, Sept. 11’s afternoon programming block will be dedicated to the series’ most-musical episodes in preparation for the three-day run of “The Simpsons Take the Bowl!” at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (from Sept. 12 to 14). And going forward, FXX’s Sunday night four-hour Simpsons block will be thematically tied to the new episodes airing on Fox, which begin Sept. 28.
“If, for example, [Fox] does an episode about Krusty the Clown, you’ll see the 8 best [Krusty-themed episodes] on FXX leading up to that,” Saftler said.
First stab at Simpsons closing number at the Hwd Bowl. Made me forget football losses. pic.twitter.com/WKMpdMZjGJ
— james l. brooks (@canyonjim) September 8, 2014
The massive marathon, which concluded Sept. 1, yielded results that stunned the network, delivering an average of 1.32 million total viewers — 841,000 of which were in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic. Before the start of the 12-day event, the network was averaging 206,000 total viewers and 111,000 viewers in 18 to 49. It went from being the 49th-ranked basic cable network among 18- to 49-year-olds to the no. 1 network, all while being in 25% fewer homes than most other competitors. (FXX is available in roughly 75 million homes versus the average of 100 million homes for other basic cable networks.)
“It was the most wonderful result we ever could have received,” Saftler said. “And I think what was even more rewarding was to see the passion and love that viewers have for a show that’s 25 years old.”
Post-marathon, the network is airing the show five days out of seven, with movies acting as the lead-ins for FXX’s original programming — namely The League and soon, a new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — and Saturdays standing Simpsons-free due to limitations on the number of episodes the network can run per week per to its syndication agreement. On the other days, classic Simpsons (defined by no one’s specific edict, according to Saftler, as seasons 1 to 15) airs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET/PT and 10:30 p.m. to midnight ET/PT, while “modern Simpsons” takes the time in between.
When repeats of Archer begin airing on FXX in the spring, Saftler said those will likely be placed late at night behind The Simpsons, but the mix of newer and older episodes will continue.
“We didn’t see there was a proclivity to the earlier episodes versus the later episodes,” Saftler said of the marathon ratings. “In fact, what we learned through sentiment expressed through Twitter is that for the older viewers who sort of moved on at some point and time, they were finding themselves loving the newer episodes, and coming to the realization that the quality of the show stayed high.”
In all, 25 million unique viewers sampled the marathon across the 12 days, with the average person watching 23 episodes.
This huge success has not gone unrecognized either, it seems. Just yesterday, it was announced that the show would air in China (with Mandarin subtitles) for the first time after Fox struck a streaming pact with online streaming service Sohu Video. It was not said how long the deal had been in the works, but headline-making ratings probably didn’t hurt.
“Rather than ‘How do we keep the momentum of that marathon going,’ which I don’t think is possible because that was a really special one-time only event, [we’re asking] ‘How do we continue to expose to the new viewers who have found us that we have an awful lot of treats to offer them?'” he said. “I think that’s what our game plan is.”
The episode line-up for Thursday’s musical-moments block, announced Tuesday, is listed below:
8 p.m. – “Marge vs. The Monorail” (Season 4) – An unscrupulous profiteer sells the people of Springfield on a defective monorail system, with Homer as the conductor. Song highlighted at Bowl event: “Monorail Song.”
8:30 p.m. – “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” (Season 5) – Homer recounts his phenomenal rise to superstardom as a member of the barbershop quartet, The Be Sharps. Song: “Baby on Board.”
9 p.m. – “Homer the Great” (Season 6) – Homer’s popularity skyrockets when he is chosen as the leader of a secret organization. Song: “We Do – The Stonecutters Song.”
9:30 p.m. – “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds” (Season 6) – Bart and Lisa attempt to rescue 25 greyhound puppies from Mr. Burns, who wants to use their hides for a new tuxedo. Song: “See My Vest.”
10 p.m. – “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 2” (Season 7) – Lisa aids police with the investigation of the Burns shooting. Song: “Señor Burns.”
10:30 p.m. – “A Fish Called Selma” (Season 7) – Troy McClure stages a Hollywood comeback when he begins dating Selma. Songs: “Dr. Zaius” and “Chimpan A to Chimpan Z.”
11 p.m. – “Bart After Dark” (Season 8) – While Marge is out of town, Homer allows Bart to work at a burlesque house. Song: “We Put the Spring in Springfield.”
11:30 p.m. – “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious” (Season 8) – The Simpsons hire a Mary Poppins-like nanny when Marge becomes overwhelmed by the demands of being a housewife. Song: “Minimum Wage Nanny.”
Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/09/09/fxx-simpsons/