FX CEO John Landgraf is one of the more outspoken TV execs out there. He’s never been shy with offering his opinion on the state of the TV marketplace, and honestly, his “takes” are pretty spot-on, most of the time. Of course, we always have to take what he says with a modicum of salt, just based on the inherent bias he carries, representing FX. However, with the recent headlines that Netflix has garnered based on their outlandish “ratings” for programs like “Sex Education,” “You,” and the film “Bird Box,” Landgraf is ready to set the record straight.”
Based on the fact that streamers like to measure the number of video starts, not the average audience, Landgraf said, at a recent TCA event (via THR), the claims by Netflix are “not remotely accurate representation of a long-form program performance.”
Bringing some data to back up his claim, Landgraf said that “You,” which Netflix has claimed to be watched by over 40 million users, isn’t the massive, world-dominating hit the streaming service would like you to believe. He mentions Nielsen ratings for the series, which paints a very different picture.
He said, “An average audience of 8 million viewers is good, but it’s not as good as 40 million, which would make you the number one show on television.”
The FX boss also breaks down those astronomic numbers for the Netflix series “Sex Education,” which was touted as being seen by over 40 million users, as well. Landgraf said the real number is closer to 3.1 million over two weeks.
One thing is for sure, at least for now, FX isn’t interested in competing in the TV arms race that seems to be going on between the major streaming content providers. With Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Hulu, and others spending large sums of money for just about any new show they can get their hands on, it leaves traditional networks like FX wondering what its plan will look like.
As of now, Landgraf said FX will be more disciplined with its development and “any increased output at FX will be measured and focused.” However, that being said, Landgraf conceded, “No matter how well we execute, not being connected to a major streaming service… would be really problematic for us in the long run.”
The CEO did take the time to update everyone on the status of one of the network’s most acclaimed series, “Fargo.” Landgraf said the series should begin production this winter, and according to his comments, it looks like the Noah Hawley-created series isn’t missing a beat.
“We’ve actually now heard the season pitch for the fourth season of ‘Fargo;’ Noah’s writing it and I read the first scripted and loved it. I didn’t know if it would go past one season [but] as long as he can come up with fantastic ideas, we’ll make theme forever if he keeps coming up with them,” Landgraf added.
As for the future of FX, with the impending Disney/Fox buyout, the network boss is optimistic. He said, “The more I’ve gotten to know Bob [Iger], the more optimistic I’ve grown about the future of FX.”