FX CEO John Landgraf doesn’t mince words. In a recent radio interview, the head of FX Networks had some pretty bold comments to make regarding Netflix, the streaming service that did not end up landing the bid for FX's originals. Landgraf truly believes in the product he is pushing, while he feels a lot of the programming that Netflix has released has been wanting in some ways. You can check out his fighting words, below.
Netflix has made 14 shows. Take any 14 shows we've made; they're better. Any 14 shows, on average, our shows are better.
While I think most people would agree that Netflix has put out some quality content, the company is also releasing a lot of new content and Landgraf seems to be arguing that all of those originals can’t compete with the better cable shows (eg. stuff on FX, according to him). Netflix head Ted Sarandos has been bold and blunt about the future of the cable industry versus the future of the streaming industry, and it doesn’t surprise me that Landgraf would be equally as blunt when describing his point of view. He also says that Netflix has been resistant to TV programming that isn't their originals, noting that FX tried to sell shows to Netflix, but Netflix refused to include an FX logo. The company later sold originals to Amazon.
During Landgraf’s interview with The Business radio show, Landgraf, did backtrack a little to say that, of course, Netflix does have some credible programming.
By the way, they have made some great shows in that 14. I would be absolutely proud to have made and to program Orange Is the New Black, right? But the average quality of the shows they put out is not as good as ours, and I think that's a lack of careful attention.
Look, FX Networks obviously have a lot of good, popular programming, including the likes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the American Horror Story franchise. In addition, the network has a bunch of other programming, including The Americans and The Strain, that has earned critical acclaim, even when the ratings haven’t been quite as outstanding. I don’t blame Landgraf for wanting to defend the networks he has worked to grow over the past decade or longer, but the same argument could be made for Netflix and its programming, ranging from dramas like House of Cards and Daredevil to comedies like BoJack Horseman and more.
What this boils down to is a continued battle for dominance. It is clear that TV is changing and changing swiftly. Landgraf even notes elsewhere in the interview that a lot of what FX is doing today is thinking about a longer shelf life for its originals, which head to Amazon and other streaming services (not Netflix) after they initially air on FX or FXX. So, even the cable channel is aware of the changing narrative related to TV. Now, we’ll just have to wait and see whether FX or Netflix manages to pull ahead in the ultimate horserace.