Showtime’s efforts to keep up with the evolving TV landscape was high on the agenda during the network’s panel with its executives Tuesday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour.
David Nevins, fresh into his dual role as both president and chief executive of Showtime Networks, celebrated the network’s subscriber growth for its over-the-top service and spoke of plans to modify its scheduling strategy when he appeared before reporters in Pasadena.
Showtime’s stand-alone service launched in the summer of 2015 to attract customers who don't already subscribe to a premium cable package. It teamed up with services such as Hulu and Amazon Prime — subscribers to those streaming platforms could opt to add the Showtime service for an additional fee — to broaden its reach.
"We've grown subscribers virtually every single week since July," said Nevins, who also touted the Showtime app’s availability on PlayStation, Apple TV and Roku as beneficial. "And there's been a 50% [increase] in paid streaming since the fall premieres of ‘Homeland’ and ‘The Affair.’”
Nevins, though, would not provide specific figures related to the increase.
Continuing on the topic of the expanding streaming world, the executive contended that 2016 will be “the year of customized viewing” among early-adopter consumers that he referred to as “cord cobblers.”
“This year’s going to be about choice — people putting together the bundle that makes sense for them,” Nevins said. “In most cases that will be through traditional distributors with maybe some add-ons.”
In response to new viewing habits, Nevins also announced Showtime is taking a new approach with its series launch strategy, saying high-profile programs will premiere once a month rather than rolling out two by two on a quarterly basis. Nevins cited the increased percentage of nonlinear views for Showtime series — saying about 80% of viewing doesn’t happen in the time period — as a reason for the new approach.
"We intend to begin staggering our premieres from Noah's ark, two by two, to once a month," said Nevins. "It probably will [require] incrementally more marketing, because we can't count on a ‘Homeland’ to launch ‘The Affair’ as we did.”
Nevins, joined onstage by programming President Gary Levine, also talked about the status of some of its returning and upcoming shows.
The executive said that “Homeland,” which has shot in Cape Town and Berlin for the last two years, will shift its focus back to the U.S. for its upcoming sixth season, with the series set in the New York area.
When asked whether discussions had been had with "Homeland” co-creator and show runner Alex Gansa about the life span of the drama, Nevins said there had been “vague” talks.
“[Alex] tends to attack his seasons one by one,” Nevins said. “I think that's one of the strengths of the show. Needless to say, it's going to be in their control."
Levine added: "The good news is it's not imminent.”
One show whose fate is less promising is modest-performing but awards-playing “Episodes.” Asked about a tweet from star Matt LeBlanc, in which he hinted that he was about to film the final season of the comedy, Levine said it was a “real possibility.”
"We are in the very talented hands of [creators] Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane,” Levine said, noting that nothing is official yet about a final season. “They are hard at work in the fifth season. And we will wait to see if white smoke or black smoke comes out of the chimney to see if that's it.”
"David [Lynch] is more than halfway through his shooting schedule," said Nevins. "It will premiere in the first quarter of 2017."
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