Charlie Sheen’s sitcom ‘Anger Management’ began on FX as a 10/90 experiment, meaning that should the first 10 episodes meet a certain ratings threshold, then it will be automatically renewed for an additional 90 episodes, making 100 episodes in total. That is the amount of episodes usually required for syndication (selling reruns of the show to individual stations and markets).
The ratings for Anger Management met the requirement, and it is now pumping out an additional 90 episodes as we speak, what is important to note with Anger Management, is that its ratings haven’t held up all that well for FX, but that shouldn’t bother Debmar-Mercury/Lionsgate, the shows producers, as they continue to profit, and will end up reaping significant rewards when the show begins in syndication.
The biggest potential loser in any 10/90 deal is the original network airing the show, and having to pay for 90 more episodes of a show that could start bleeding viewers after the original 10 episodes. That’s a big risk, especially as each episode of Anger Management reportedly costs $600,000 for FX to air, but it’s a risk other networks are apparently willing to take on.
Kelsey Grammar and Martin Lawrence are set to begin production on a new sitcom which is being sold as a 10/90 venture – again to the FX network. The still untitled sitcom is set to feature the pair as Chicago lawyers from “vastly different backgrounds who unexpectedly meet in court on the worst day of their lives.”
My biggest issue with this format of production, is how are writers and producers supposed to properly frame a storyline, write good episodes and have the time necessary to really concentrate on the intricacies of a situation comedy, when they are expected to pump out around 45 episodes per year? Anger Management clearly suffers from this, as its writing is sloppy and its production values are cheap and very crude, it’s dropping ratings are also a concern to the network, and clearly the content is not that appealing to viewers.
Anger Management is airing first run episodes on sister network FOX over the summer in a bid to rescue the shows ratings, and give it a larger platform, but if that doesn’t help, it doesn’t bode that well for the future of this new way of production and distribution.