Two of FX’s most anticipated shows, Y: The Last Man and American Horror Stories, are forgoing traditional TV airing to become FX on Hulu exclusives.
Brian K. Vaughan’s popular comic book series being adapted by the network, Y: The Last Man, and Ryan Murphy’s spinoff of American Horror Story, American Horror Stories, will now premiere exclusively on Hulu, the company announced at its upfront presentation on Monday. The move signifies what many industry insiders speculated would likely happen as part of the new “FX on Hulu” deal — an emphasis on Disney’s streaming product.
It makes sense. Moving shows away from traditional cable, where customers are dropping like flies, and building up Hulu’s library is completely in line with what Disney executive chairman Bob Iger envisioned as the future of “FX on Hulu” when he first spoke about it in an earnings call last November. Think of it like this: if a cornerstone of HBO Max’s offering is prestigious HBO programming, then Disney is trying to curate a similar high-level catalog of programming through FX offerings on Hulu.
Disney is a big believer in Hulu’s potential as a general entertainment streaming platform — the bridge between more niche streaming services like ESPN Plus and Disney Plus. Hulu announced today that since the FX on Hulu hub launched, more than 50 percent of its subscribers have engaged with FX content, and the network’s reach has grown 130 percent. It’s difficult to say how many people that is because Hulu doesn’t release exact viewership numbers.
When Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in 2019, and FX in the process, there became an immediate opportunity for Disney to beef up its library and original offerings to subscribers. That becomes especially important when competition is just on the horizon; HBO Max, Peacock, and a revamped CBS All Access, on top of numerous other streaming services competing for attention, means Disney needs the best of the best.
A cornerstone of HBO Max’s offering is prestigious programming, and Disney is trying to curate a similar high-level catalog
That’s FX. By taking some of FX’s most anticipated titles and making them Hulu exclusives in all but name, it’s a way to keep subscribers from canceling their subscriptions and bringing new customers in. Disney’s decision to move two of FX’s potential big shows away from traditional TV and onto a streaming service with more than 32 million subscribers signals where the House of Mouse’s main priority lies.
Streaming is the future. For the romantics out there, it’s a little bittersweet. John Landgraf, the aforementioned visionary head of FX, has repeatedly spoken about the potentially damaging effects of streaming services and companies like Netflix while deftly acknowledging this isn’t just the future of entertainment; it is where the industry currently lives. Earlier this year, he defended parent company Disney’s decision to not run Netflix ads on its entertainment networks (like ABC), explaining that he would “prefer not to share a scarce resource in an environment where we’re fighting for our lives.”
It suddenly seems like the world that executives at iconic TV giants like HBO and FX were worried about — one where scale and quantity are just as important as quality and prestige — is very much here. Now, Landgraf isn’t just creating television for FX, but he’s helping curate Hulu’s future as one fo Disney’s most powerful and important streaming service. Same with creatives like Ryan Murphy, who boarded the streaming train a few years ago in a $300 million deal with Netflix.
On one hand, Y: The Last Man and American Horror Stories are just two shows moving from one location to another. On the other, Disney has now made it explicitly clear that FX is no longer programming with traditional television in mind. It’s now programming as part of a streaming service first and foremost — and a core part of Hulu’s future.