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JAN
24
7 MOS

Showtime Follows 'Downton Abbey's' Lead, Programs Against Super Bowl

The cable network shifts gears and schedules new outings of "Shameless," "House of Lies" and "Episodes" for Feb. 2, as most stay out of the fray completely.

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Mark Seliger/SHOWTIME; AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
"House of Lies" and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning

If it's good enough for Downton Abbey, maybe it'll be a smart move for the less-refined folks on Shameless too.

Showtime announced Friday that, contrary to last year, it is changing gears and programming original episodes of its Sunday lineup against the unbeatable Super Bowl. Feb. 2 will now bring original outings of Shameless, House of Lies and Episodes. This comes after news that HBO decided to migrate Sunday comedies Girls and Looking to Saturday and nix the weekend's True Detective completely.

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“We’ve looked at the competitive landscape, and we have an opportunity to be one of the few scripted alternatives on Super Bowl Sunday," said Kim Lemon, Showtime Networks evp of program planning, scheduling and research. "Shameless went head-to-head last week against the strongest NFL championship game we’ve seen in 19 years, and still grew its audience 17 percent year-over-year."

Showtime is not the first network to make this move. PBS has seen huge success the past two Super Bowl Sundays by staying the course with British import Downton Abbey. In both 2012 and 2013, the Masterpiece Classics run of Downton was the second-most-watched TV broadcast to the Super Bowl and the second-highest-rated in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic. This year's Super Bowl will face both Downton Abbey and the season finale of Sherlock on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery.

But PBS, like Showtime, does not have to worry about advertisers. So while the play for the non-sports set could prove fruitful in the ratings, any attention at all during football's biggest weekend is a nice door prize.