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Impeachment: American Crime Story isn't widely available to stream: Is that why it's not a hit?

  • The Ryan Murphy anthology series' season devoted to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was supposed to be a massive hit when it launched on Sept. 7 with an A-list cast including Clive Owen, Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein and Edie Falco. But though eight episodes, "the only thing missing was a big viewing audience," says The New York Times' John Koblin. “Impeachment: American Crime Story, a series that attracted lots of media coverage before its September premiere, airs on the FX cable network Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Last week’s episode ranked 15th in the ratings for cable shows that day, tied with ESPN’s Around the Horn and MTV’s Teen Mom." The problem, says Koblin, this season of Impeachment: American Crime Story isn't widely available to stream. It's unavailable on Hulu like other FX series and it won't be added to Netflix until 10 months from now. "Fans of American Crime Story who miss an episode can still stream it, but only if they are armed with their cable-subscription user names and passwords. And in 2021, a show that’s not easy to stream risks becoming almost invisible," says Koblin. "The reason for its absence from the big streamers has to do with a deal worked out in 2016 by FX’s parent at the time, 21st Century Fox. For an undisclosed sum, the company sold the streaming rights to all editions of American Crime Story to Netflix. Both sides agreed that the series would be available exclusively on FX for roughly a year. From then on, Netflix would make it available to its subscribers. The deal seemed reasonable to 21st Century Fox in 2016. Back then, cable was still a robust business, and viewers were still in the habit of watching a program at a certain time on a certain night of the week." As Koblin points out, the pandemic has accelerated cord-cutting. Season 1 of American Crime Story premiered in 2016 when FX was available in 92 million households and Netflix had 80 million subscribers. Now FX is available in 76 million households and Netflix has 213 million subscribers. Koblin also points out that the experience of watching Impeachment on cable can be cumbersome for those used to streaming: Last week's "roughly 80-minute show included five commercial breaks that took up 18 minutes and 25 seconds," he says. "A sixth commercial break, three minutes long, came between the final scene and the preview of the next week’s episode."

    TOPICS: Impeachment: American Crime Story, FX, FX on Hulu, Hulu, Netflix, Ryan Murphy, American Crime Story Franchise