Speaking to reporters ahead of Disney’s “Upfront Experience” in New York today, John Landgraf, chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions, spoke about his optimism for the future as his division settles into its new parent company.
“It’s been a wonderful integration process,” Landgraf said. “We’re all excited about the possibilities of these combinations,” he said of opportunities to work with sister divisions like ESPN and National Geographic.
Landgraf said Hulu will be the brand’s streaming home (his comments came shortly after Disney revealed it was taking full control of the platform) rather than the family-friendly, four-quadrant Disney+ or a standalone SVOD service.
“It’s going to be challenging for standalone streaming brands to scale up. You can start to see the shape of a new world emerging in which there are six really large companies that have declared their aspirations to make large streaming services—Disney, Comcast, AT&T/WarnerMedia, Apple, Amazon and Netflix. The thing I’m most excited about is you can see massive growth in the OTT space and you can see, particularly with younger viewers, that’s where the growth is coming from. Cable distribution is flat at best. The possibilities of a platform like Hulu, which has so many more subscribers, is much more exciting to us in the long run than trying to scale up a standalone brand.”
Asked about volume, Landgraf noted, “FX has matriculated over 15, 16 years from one show to about 15 right now. We’ve done really well in terms of punching above our weight with the number of shows we have. But I don’t think 15 shows is enough to be a brand that is continuously in the conversation about what’s best in television. I don’t want to expand too far; it’s the curatorial quality of the brand that gives it its weight, its power. I want more—I just want them to come at a quality [level].”
He went on to say that the culture at Disney is “obsessively focused on quality. There’s an aspirational common ground there. I’m really optimistic, more optimistic than I’ve ever been, that our best days are in front of us not behind us. From my standpoint, this transaction has given us a new lease on life. And it’ll give us more resources to invest in great storytelling.”
He later talked about the importance of brands. “Brands are really valuable, particularly when you’re in a really large retail or consumer environment. What Bob [Iger] has quite rightly thought is that brands are going to be more valuable, not less valuable in the future, as audiences have so much choice. Disney+ is already an extremely well-defined service in terms of the five brands that sit within it. I think Hulu will always be a large aggregator. I’m really excited about the way that we can have the opportunity to do what we do well, which is make a limited amount of programming that has a certain common quality, a certain consistency to it, but then have that brand nestled inside of a large streaming service where there is enough optionality, enough range, enough value for price that a large number of consumers will want to buy.”