‘Archer’ Final Season Disrupted As Disney-Charter Deal Also Impacts Linear Viewing For ‘It’s Always Sunny,’ ‘Grown-ish’ & ‘Bluey’

Archer‘s 14th and final season had just premiered the night before on FXX when on Aug. 31 all Disney cable networks, as well as the ABC owned-and-operated stations, went dark on Charter’s Spectrum cable system. Ten days and one new episode of Archer later, the bitter carriage dispute was resolved but FXX was not restored on Spectrum.

That is because, in exchange for getting wide distribution for its ad-supported Disney+ service, Disney made a concession on the linear side. Eight cable networks, including FXX, FXM, Freeform, Disney Junior, Disney XD and Nat Geo Wild, are being dropped from Spectrum, the No.2 cable operator in the U.S. with 14.7 million customers, with each net losing close to 20% of their reach.

While a significant portion of viewing for FX-branded programming comes from streamer Hulu, I hear FX brass are looking for ways to make the final season of Archer available to loyal fans of the show who have watched it on linear through Spectrum. A decision is expected soon as the next episode drops this Wednesday. The flagship FX network remains on Spectrum, so it is possible for the final batch of episodes to be made available there or through a VOD on the cable system or other means.

The situation is less pressing for FXX’s other flagship original series, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which recently aired its 16th season, with the next season at least a year away. (The veteran comedy has been renewed through Season 18.)

For YA-focused Freeform, digital consumption on Hulu by its young constituency dwarfs linear viewing, so no additional linear accommodations are expected for Freeform originals like grown-ish, which recently wrapped Part.1 of its final season, and Good Trouble, which is also inbetween the two parts of its current fifth season.

Disney Junior is the U.S. linear home of pre-school animated sensation Bluey, which, along with all Disney Junior originals, are available on Disney+. Spectrum customers on the Select plan will continue to have access to the shows as they are getting Disney+ Basic with ads through the new carriage deal.

Additionally, some Nat Geo Wild series are believed to be available on the main Nat Geo channel that remains on Spectrum.

 “A lot of the programming on those channels is windowed to their cable channel siblings” as well as Disney+, Disney Entertainment Co-Chairman Dana Walden told Deadline in an interview today. 

That does not apply to FXX and Freeform fare, with Hulu currently the only option for Spctrum customers who want to watch those series.

As for whether FXX, Freeform & Co. will continue to program originals, the answer appears to be yes, according to Walden, fellow Disney Entertainment Co-Chairman Alan Bergman and ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro.

“Our commitment to all our brands and the people who work for them is unchanged,” the trio said in a memo today when referencing the eight networks dropped by Spectrum. “We will continue to program these channels and deliver the same high-quality shows to our fans.”


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