After a strong network launch on Monday that easily eclipsed previous ratings performances from former channel holder Fox Soccer, FXX delivered its first night of original programming on Wednesday.
The comedy-centric cable outlet debuted new seasons of FX imports It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League and talker Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell. And while the late-night offering did see sharper dips, the scripted efforts were largely in line with last season’s hauls in the targeted demographics.
Always Sunny, kicking off its ninth season, anchored the block at 10 p.m. The comedy averaged 757,000 viewers in its first airing on the new network. It also averaged 648,000 adults 18-49 and 575,000 adults 18-34, retention of 80 and 85 percent, respectively, from last season’s opener. Although down from last fall’s 1-million-strong premiere, its losses were small considering the move — and it actually grew 8 percent in men 18-34 to 396,000.
FXX currently airs in 72 million homes, 26 million fewer homes than FX, which accounts for much of the initial audience dip. It’s also a credit to Sunny that this is the first time it has had to go head-to-head with A&E juggernaut and cable’s current demo all-star Duck Dynasty.
“There are a lot of things that go into how we evaluate our shows, outside of just ratings, and we’re very clear that they’re not going to perform how they perform on FX,” programming president Eric Schrier recently told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview with counterpart Nick Grad. “It’s a long-term play.”
The League started its fifth season with 786,000 viewers at 10:30 p.m. It grew from Sunny‘s haul, and even closer to its numbers in the key adult demos from last year’s premieres. It held 94 percent of its showing among adults 18-49 (687,000) and 92 percent of adults 18-34 (537,000).
“The numbers last night on FXX for Sunny and The League far exceeded our highest expectations,” said FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf. “To have just launched the channel three days ago and get these ratings is thrilling. The delivery of these shows needs no qualification, they are proven appointment viewing for young adult audiences. Thanks to the fans and congratulations to Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and everyone involved with Sunny, and to Jeff and Jackie Schaffer and everyone on The League.”
W. Kamau Bell is in a slightly different position with Totally Biased. The young talk show, part of FX’s move into late night last year, kicks off its FXX run as a nightly program. The episode brought in 90,000 adults 18-34 and 137,000 adults 18-49, holding a respective 59 and 49 percent from its last weekly cycle. (The show was up an astronomical 2,900 percent in adults 18-34 and 1,857 percent in adults 18-49 from last September’s comparatively minor time slot showing for Fox Soccer.)