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College football deal likely to lead FX to push for higher fee

March 28, 2011 | 12:04 pm

If you want big subscriber fees, you need big sports.

That is one of the motivations behind News Corp.'s decision to put college football on its cable network FX. Although FX has had creative and commercial success with its dramas and comedies such as "Rescue Me," "Sons of Anarchy" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," it trails rival networks including TNT and TBS in license fees. TNT's and TBS' big-ticket sports programming includes the NBA, baseball and college basketball.

License fees are what cable and satellite distributors pay cable networks for carriage. According to SNL Kagan, an industry consulting firm, FX gets about 40 cents per month per subscriber. News Corp. President Chase Carey has said a priority of his is getting a higher price tag for FX.

"We have room to grow," Carey said in remarks at a Hollywood Radio & Television Society luncheon.

FX's 40 cents is a far cry from the dollar that TNT gets and the 50 cents or so that TBS pulls in. USA, which also carries coverage of the Olympics, has a sub fee in the neighborhood of 60 cents, according to SNL Kagan.

FX's package calls for the channel to carry at least 13 games from the Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA.

"Sports programming is a key component that has been missing on FX for a while and we look forward to its return on our schedule," said John Landgraf, president of FX.

FX has carried sports in the past including NASCAR, however at the time it had not built up its audience with original shows the way it has now. So far this year, FX's prime time audience average has been 1.6 million people, a 22% increase from the same period a year ago. Among adults 18-49, FX's numbers were up 19%.

Although FX is off to a strong start this year, two of its new dramas failed to live past season one. Both "Terriers," about rag-tag private investigators and "Lights Out," about a heavy weight fighter trying to make a comeback, were cancelled after one season.

-- Joe Flint

RELATED:

News Corp. Chase Carey wants higher sub fees for FX and NatGeo

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