FX, originally stylized as "fX", launched on June 1, 1994. Broadcasting from a large "apartment" in Manhattan's Flatiron District, fX was one of the first forays into large-scale interactive television. The channel centered on original programming, which was broadcast live every day from the "fX Apartment," and rebroadcasts of classic television shows from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Eight Is Enough, Nanny and the Professor and The Green Hornet. fX had two taglines during this period: "TV Made Fresh Daily" and "The World's First Living Television Network". The "f" in the channel's name and logo was rendered in lower-case to portray a type of relaxed friendliness; the stylized "X" represented the channel's roots: the crossing searchlights of the 20th Century Fox logo.
The live shows were each mostly focused on one broad topic. Shows included Personal fX (collectibles and antiques), The Pet Department (pets), Under Scrutiny with Jane Wallace (news) and Sound fX (music). The channel's flagship show, Breakfast Time, hosted by Laurie Hibberd and Tom Bergeron, was formatted like an informal magazine program and was an Americanized version of Great Britain's The Big Breakfast. Breakfast Time and Personal fX would regularly feature the channel's "roving reporters" – which included Suzanne Whang, John Burke and Phil Keoghan – visiting unique places around the United States live via satellite. Other notable fX personalities included Karyn Bryant and Orlando Jones, who were panelists on Sound fX.
The channel prided itself on its interactivity with viewers. fX, in 1994, was an early adopter of the internet, embracing e-mail and the World Wide Web as methods of feedback. Most of the shows would feature instant responses to e-mailed questions, and one show, Backchat (hosted by Jeff Probst), was exclusively devoted to responding to viewer mail, whether sent through e-mail or traditional postal mail. Select viewers were allowed to spend a day at the "apartment" and take part in all of the channel's shows. Inside the channel's syndicated programming blocks, channel hosts would frequently appear during commercial breaks to read news headlines, respond to e-mails from viewers about the episode that was airing, or to promote upcoming programming.
The first incarnation of fX was not available on Time Warner Cable, one of the major cable systems in New York City, where its programming originated. TWC would not carry the channel until September 2001.
The live shows gradually disappeared one by one until only Personal fX remained. Breakfast Time was moved to the Fox network and renamed Fox After Breakfast in mid-1996. It underwent several format changes, but never found a substantial audience and was canceled less than a year later. By the time that all live programming (with the exception of Personal fX) was dropped, the channel focused entirely on its classic television shows until its relaunch in mid-1997. Personal fX remained on the refocused FX until May 1, 1998. FX vacated the "apartment" in the summer of 1998 and the channel's operations were streamlined with the other Fox-owned cable channels.
In early 1997, fX was relaunched as "FX: Fox Gone Cable", refocusing the channel's target audience towards men aged 18 to 49. During the first few years after its relaunch, FX was known for little else than airing reruns of such Fox shows as The X-Files and Married... with Children, as well as 20th Century Fox-produced shows such as M*A*S*H and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The channel also added Major League Baseball games to its lineup at that time (at one point sharing rights with then-sister network Fox Family), and eventually expanded its sports programming to include NASCAR races in 2001.
In the summer of 1998, FX debuted three original series: Bobcat's Big Ass Show, Instant Comedy with the Groundlings and Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular. All three series were cancelled the following year. Soon after its relaunch, the "Fox Gone Cable" tagline was dropped. By 1999, new original programs were added with the debut of shows such as Son of the Beach (a Baywatch parody that starred Timothy Stack and was executive produced by Howard Stern) and The X Show (a male-oriented late night panel talk show). The channel also acquired the cable syndication rights to reruns of series such as Ally McBeal, NYPD Blue and The Practice for then-record high prices then unseen in the cable industry despite all three 20th Century Fox Television series being under common ownership; when these shows expensively fumbled in primetime, FX predominantly ran movies in its more high-profile time periods, though with the move of premiere film rights from broadcast television to basic cable, FX unexpectedly would end up a benefactor of this change.
Beginning in 2002, the channel emerged as a major force in original cable programming, gaining both acclaim and notoriety for edgy dramas. That year, FX debuted the police drama The Shield, which became a breakout hit. This trend continued the following year with Nip/Tuck, a drama about two plastic surgeons, and the Denis Leary-helmed Rescue Me, about the lives of a crew of firemen from the New York City Fire Department post-9/11. Both shows were lauded by critics, and achieved equal success with viewers. Rescue Me was one of the few television series to be given an order for an additional season prior to the broadcast of its most recent season: in June 2009 FX renewed the show for an 18-episode sixth season, although the fifth season had not premiered at the time.
Unlike many broadcast networks, FX has chosen to take risks with its programming and push the envelope of what can be shown on television; as a result, most (though not all) of the channel's original programming are assigned TV-MA ratings, often for strong profanity, sexual and/or violent content. Opinions on these shows are mixed; some organizations, such as the Parents Television Council and American Family Association, have asked advertisers to boycott these shows due to their graphic content. The shows have also been critically acclaimed for their strong storylines and characters.
Capitalizing on the success of the hit documentary Super Size Me, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock launched a new series, 30 Days, which debuted on FX in June 2005. The series place its subjects in situations uncomfortable to them for 30 days, such as making millionaires work for minimum wage, and having Christians live in a Muslim community.
In the summer of 2005, FX debuted two new comedy series, Starved, about the daily lives of four friends with eating disorders who live in New York City; and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, about the usually very politically incorrect comic misadventures of four people who own a bar in the titular city. Both of these shows feature frank sexual dialogue and strong language, and were pitched as "The Dark Side of Comedy." Starved was derided by groups that sought to publicize eating disorders and was cancelled after its first season due to low ratings. Conversely, Sunny quickly became a critical darling, consistently achieved high viewership, and was picked up for a second season within days of its first season finale. Fox aired an edited version of Sunny for a three-episode run in the summer of 2006, in an effort to further promote the series.
In 2006, FX debuted two new series, the reality series Black. White. and the drama Thief; neither series was picked up for a second season. During 2007, FX introduced three new dramas: Dirt, starring Courteney Cox; The Riches, starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver; and Damages, starring Glenn Close, Ted Danson and Rose Byrne. All three performed well in the ratings and were renewed for second seasons. By 2008, FX was available in 90.6 million homes in the U.S.
In 2008, the channel launched a new branding campaign built around the theme "There Is No Box." It alluded to the phrase "thinking outside the box" and referred to how the channel's programming goes beyond "the box" concept. In addition, this was a pun related to the channel's creating original programs to compete against premium channels such as HBO. The channel's logo was updated on December 18, 2007, retaining only the FX wordmark while removing the klieg light logo box that had been placed to its left since the 1997 rebrand. The new branding included an advertising campaign featuring a post-game ad for the channel during Fox's coverage of Super Bowl XLII. The promo used the James Morrison song "You Give Me Something".
During 2008, competition with other cable channels increased, which was evident in the second season ratings for series Dirt and The Riches, whose ratings decreased significantly from their freshman seasons. During some weeks, viewership for both shows barely exceeded 1 million. Both shows were cancelled in 2008; acquired programs Dharma and Greg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Married... with Children, and Fear Factor were also removed from the schedule.
On September 3, 2008, FX debuted Sons of Anarchy, a drama series created by Kurt Sutter (who previously served as executive producer of The Shield) about a fictional outlaw motorcycle club devoted to protecting their sheltered California town from corporate developers and drug dealers; its September premiere coincided with that of The Shield's final season. Sons of Anarchy became a critical and commercial success, having aired for seven seasons as of 2014. In 2010, the series attracted an average of 4.9 million viewers per week, making it FX's highest rated series to date. Other new shows that premiered in 2010 included the Kenny Hotz comedy Testees, which debuted in October 2008 and was cancelled after its first season. In August 2008, FX relaunched its website, adding streaming of full episodes of its original programs. In 2009, reruns of the former ABC sitcom Spin City were removed from the schedule (though it was restored early the following year).
In July 2009, FX ordered three new comedy pilots: Archer, an animated series featuring a spy agency, which premiered on January 14, 2010; The League, with a group of friends who are part of a fantasy football league; and Louie, a sitcom starring stand-up comedian and writer Louis C.K., which "blend[s] stand-up material with[...] 'extended vignettes' depicting moments from [the comedian's] offstage experiences." The following year, FX debuted Wilfred, a comedy series starring Elijah Wood. It is based on the Australian comedy series of the same name.
In March 2010, the channel debuted Justified, a drama series created by Graham Yost based on Elmore Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole" (which was the series' original working title). It starred Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens – a tough, soft-spoken lawman with a rough side – and chronicles his cases and personal life, including unfinished business with an ex-wife and his aging father. FX also picked up the crime comedy-drama Terriers, created by Ted Griffin, for its fall 2010 lineup; in 2011, the channel debuted the boxing drama Lights Out, about retired boxing champion Patrick "Lights" Leary who is considering a comeback despite the serious risks it entails. Despite the critical acclaim that Terriers and Lights Out received, the two series were cancelled after their first seasons due to low viewership; For Terriers specifically, FX Networks president and General Manager John Landgraf would later admit in a 2016 interview with critic Alan Sepinwall that "I cannot think of a more painful moment of my career than the one when I defined Terriers as a failure by canceling it."
On October 1, 2010, parent company News Corporation (which spun off FX and the company's other U.S.-based entertainment properties to 21st Century Fox in July 2013) pulled its channels from Dish Network due to a carriage dispute over retransmission consent revenue. FX returned to the satellite provider's channel lineup on October 29, 2010, after Dish Network and News Corporation signed a long-term carriage agreement. On November 1, 2010, following a similar dispute, FX and its sister channels were restored by New York City-based cable provider Cablevision through a separate carriage agreement.
On October 14, 2011, FX announced that it picked up the rights to develop a series based on Scar Tissue and Lords of the Sunset Strip, the autobiographies of the Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis and his father, Blackie Dammett. HBO had picked up the series, which was to be titled Spider & Son, a few years before but never completed the project. Entourage writer/producers Marc Abrams and Mike Benson were tapped as its showrunners and Kiedis was to be involved as a co-producer. Dammett said in 2013 that the show has been "mothballed," and he hopes interest will resume on the project once the Red Hot Chili Peppers wrapped up their world tour that year. As of 2014 there has been no mention from FX, Kiedis or Dammett on the status of the series. On January 30, 2013, FX premiered the 1980s-set Cold War drama The Americans.
On March 28, 2013, FX president John Landgraf announced their upcoming launch of a new channel, FXX, described as "slightly more comedy focused" and aimed at younger audiences of ages 18-34 compared to FX's programming and 25-54 viewers respectively. The channel was launched alongside the new tagline, "Fearless", that was implemented during 2013 across the channels of FX Networks. These announcements were part of FX Networks' plans to further distinguish itself from "the sameness of broadcast TV and its endless basic cable imitators."
On April 3, 2013, FX changes its logo by adopted it's International logo (with the F and X attached to each other).
On June 1, 2014, FX celebrated its 20th anniversary of programming.
FX's most popular original shows include The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy, The League, Archer, Justified, American Horror Story, Anger Management,The Americans, Fargo, The Strain, American Crime Story, and Atlanta.
The channel also broadcasts theatrically released feature films from network sister company 20th Century Fox and other film studios (such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Paramount Pictures), which take up much of FX's primetime and the majority of its weekend schedules. It airs repeats of network television sitcoms (such as Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother). From the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, the acquired programs which FX broadcast consisted largely of series originally broadcast on Fox between the late 1980s and the 2000s (such as That '70s Show, Married... with Children, and In Living Color).
After obtaining the spring broadcast rights to NASCAR, Fox Sports announced that FX would serve as its cable partner for the 2001 inaugural season of race telecasts. As a result, FX covered several races in the series then known as the Busch Series and Winston Cup (including the All-Star Race), as well as select qualifying and final practice sessions. Having FX carry the race telecasts was intended to promote the channel and encourage NASCAR fans to contact their cable providers to add FX to their lineup. In 2002, Peter Liguori, who was then president of FX, praised NASCAR for its growth; the channel increased penetration from 58.5 million to 76.6 million households nationwide. FX lost the broadcast rights to NASCAR after the 2006 season, as sister channel Speed Channel became the new cable partner for NASCAR on Fox.
In 1997, FX obtained partial cable television rights to Major League Baseball games; the channel initially aired game telecasts on Monday nights, before moving them to Saturday nights in 1998. In 2000, FX began sharing the Major League Baseball cable rights with then-sister network Fox Family Channel (taking rights to the league's Thursday evening games from Fox Sports Net), with games being scheduled on an alternating basis with FX. Starting with the 2001 season, FX also obtained rights to games from the MLB Division Series, the only playoff round to which Fox did not hold television rights. Among the games televised on FX was Cal Ripken, Jr.'s final home game with the Baltimore Orioles in September 2001.
On April 27, 2011, FX began airing football games from the UEFA Champions League as part of the league's overall television deal with Fox Sports. In the fall of 2011, FX began broadcasting Big 12, Conference USA and Pac-12 college football games on Saturdays (mainly primetime games, with some daytime games mixed in), as part of Fox Sports' broadcasting contracts with the three conferences. In January 2012, FX began broadcasting content from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
With the August 2013 launches of national sports cable networks Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, FX no longer serves as a regular cable outlet for Fox Sports. However, UFC 185 preliminary fights aired on FX due to FS1 showing college basketball. Also on March 5, 2016 FX aired a Bundesliga match between that league's top two teams Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to provide wider distribution of the fixture, as Fox, FS1, and FS2 all had sporting commitments of their own at the time of the match and the match was to air on the little-distributed Fox Soccer Plus (which does not have carriage on numerous TV providers). Because this was Fox's first year of coverage of Germany's top soccer league and Bayern and Borussia are the two most successful Bundesliga teams (and have an intense rivalry known as Der Klassiker), Fox wanted to give the game wider distribution, and so the game was moved to FX in a last-minute decision.
FX Movie Channel (or FXM) launched on October 31, 1994 as fXM: Movies from Fox (prior to its launch, the channel was originally named "Fox Movie Studio") Originally launched as a spinoff of FX, the channel focused on feature films from the 20th Century Fox film library from the 1930s to the 1970s. fXM became a separately branded channel on March 1, 2000, when it was renamed Fox Movie Channel.
On January 1, 2012, Fox Movie Channel's programming was divided into two 12-hour blocks: its main programming schedule, from 3:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, was a commercial-free block retaining the older movies from the 20th Century Fox library. Another block, from 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time and a very largely advertiser-supported version, carried an expanded slate of more recent feature films from Fox and other film studios, which were targeted at audiences between the ages of 12 and 49.
On March 27, 2013, Fox Entertainment Group announced that Fox Movie Channel would be fully rebranded under the FXM name and format. FX Movie Channel became the primary brand for the channel in September 2013; the classic film block retained the Fox Movie Channel name until June 9, 2014, when the block (which retains a commercial-free format) was renamed FXM Retro.
Aimed at young men in the 18-34 age range, FXX is a digital cable and satellite channel that launched on September 2, 2013, replacing the sports-oriented Fox Soccer; FXX is a general entertainment channel that primarily focuses on comedies (whereas FX focuses primarily on drama series and films, although FX and FXX do not maintain the same genre-exclusive format as TBS and TNT as FX continues to carry sitcoms and comedic films, while FXX carries a limited selection of dramatic series and films); its programming includes original and acquired comedy series, some feature films and drama series.
With the launch of the channel, first-run episodes of some of FX's original comedy series (such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell) were shifted over to FXX. At its launch, most providers that have agreements to carry FXX have placed the channel in extra-cost sports packages (despite being a general entertainment service) as an artifact of carriage deals with the previous holder of FXX's channel space, Fox Soccer, though this is expected to be rectified over time.
FX NOW is a website for desktop computers, as well as an application for smartphones and tablet computers, along with Windows 10. It allows subscribers of participating cable and satellite providers (such as Time Warner Cable and Comcast Xfinity) numerous viewing options:individual episodes of FX and FXX's original series (which are made available the morning after their original airdate),
acquired series (most notably, the 552-episode catalog of the first 25 seasons of The Simpsons, which was added on August 21, 2014 as part of FXX's acquisition of cable syndication rights to the series), and feature films (with an initial library of 165 film titles, which will increase to more than 200 titles beginning in 2015),
Additional content includes behind-the-scenes features on computers and mobile devices via their TV Everywhere login provided by their cable provider.
Launched in January 2014, the service is also available through iOS, Android, Samsung and Windows 8 (later Windows 10) devices, Xbox One and Xbox 360, and the Roku streaming player. Although the service is available for free to subscribers of participating cable, telco and satellite providers, programs available for streaming on FXNOW feature commercial interruption.
In 2004, Fox International Channels and STAR India (through a distribution agreement) partnered to launch FX Asia. The channel is divided into four services: a national channel distributed throughout much of the continent, and three regional channels serving South Korea, the Philippines and India (the Indian channel was launched in September 2012, replacing the main Asian feed on most cable and satellite providers in that country).
fX launched in Australia in 1995, with a format reliant on classic television series (often branded on-air as "Golden Years of Television"). fXM was a nightly block on the channel that featured classic films from the 20th Century Fox library, hosted by Bill Collins (the block was often branded as "Bill Collins' Golden Years of Hollywood", which later aired on Fox Classics). In late 1998, fX became FX, a channel aimed at women (a format change affirmed in late 2000, as part of a rebrand that identified it as "Australia's first TV channel for women"), featuring shows such as The View and Donny and Marie. The channel was relaunched as W. on November 1, 2003, to emphasize its appeal to women. In 2010 it rebranded as SoHo.
On October 9, 2011, Fox International Channels announced that a new Australian version of FX would be launched in early 2012, featuring series such as The Walking Dead, Transporter: The Series and Hell on Wheels, designed to increase the breadth of its audience
On August 6, 2011, Rogers Media entered into a licensing agreement with FX Networks to launch FX Canada as a Category B digital cable and satellite specialty channel. The channel is also carried by other providers such as EastLink, Shaw Cable and MTS TV. The network, which launched on November 1, 2011, features a mix of FX original series; acquired American movies and series; and original Canadian programming and sporting events (as required by content rules imposed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission). FX Canada's broadcast license requires that 15% of its programming consist of Canadian content in its first year, 20% in its second year and 25% by its third year.
The FX channel in Latin America, is intended almost entirely aimed at a male audience, as a counterpart of Fox Life, created for the female viewers. In Brazil, it is broadcast mainly by NET TV, TVA, Oi TV, SKY, Embratel TV and GVT TV.
FX was launched in South Africa as part of the StarSat offering in May 2010.
FX was launched in Turkey on April 14, 2008 on the D-Smart digital platform. It is also available on the Digiturk, Teledünya and Tivibu digital platforms."fX: The World's First Living Television Network" (primary; 1994–1996)
"fX: TV Made Fresh Daily" (secondary; 1994–1996)
"fX: TV with You in Mind" (1996–1997)
"FX: Fox Gone Cable" (1997–2008)
"There Is No Box" (2008–2013)
FX began broadcasting a 720p high definition channel in 2007, which is available on the majority of cable and satellite providers; the standard definition channel, as is now standard with all of FX's and Fox's sports cable networks, is now merely downscaled at the provider from the HD feed rather than having a devoted standard definition feed.