Meghan McCain, FXX, and the Problem With Having Way Too Many Channels
On Wednesday, Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, announced via Twitter, "I am SO EXCITED to announce my first series Raising McCain will premiere this summer on Participant’s new cable network PIVOT!!!"
On Thursday, cable network FX officially announced the launch of it's spin-off channel, FXX, in September. FXX will be taking four of FX's comedy hits with it: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The League, Legit, and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.
Both Pivot and FXX will have an advantage of starting off with shows that will likely garner enough hype to attract viewers (or in the case of FXX, a prior audience). With an abundance of channels already available and even more options to catch shows online or on your mobile, bringing a new TV channel is cheapening the overall caliber of television by focusing more on quantity than quality.
Remember when Oprah interviewed Lance Armstrong and nobody could find what channel OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network) was on their cable? That's the world we live in now: One where there are hundreds of channels to choose from. It used to be that we actually had to flip through the channels and see what was on TV. Now that we can scroll through the listings to choose what we want to watch the amount of accessible channels to decide on is overwhelming.
To its credit, Pivot, which will launch on August 1, is coming from Participant Media (producers of films like The Help, and Food, Inc.) and is trying to be a station geared towards millennials who want to change the world. Pivot's goal is to create "lasting, sustainable change through the power of storytelling." It will reach the homes of over 40 million subscribers when it launches.
With Megan McCain at the helm of Raising McCain, it appears that Pivot is going to have a foot up in trying to attract viewers. McCain tweeted that the show is, "meet the press meets jackass — on the road talk show, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime!" Pivot also has a show coming from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, another big name.
FXX, meanwhile, is in a different boat than Pivot in that it will be broadcasting proven shows. A core audience will likely travel over to FXX from cult hits It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The League. It will be available in about 74 million homes. It remains to be seen why FX would be spreading four of its hits to FXX instead of strengthening its base network. Instead of one really strong channel with shows like The Americans, Justified, and Louie to match up with the comedies headed to FXX, we now have two workouts with only a few hit shows.
The spreading out of quality television programming makes even less sense since the spread of quality is already rampant thanks to online programming (with shows like House of Cards on Netflix or comedy series like "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" on YouTube).
Both Pivot and FXX face an uphill battle in their attempts to become mainstream TV channels. Maybe a new idea like a network for millennials or spreading high quality content over many networks will work. Flipping channels at home, however, I would rather have less junk to scroll through and instead be able to find what I want to watch easily.