July 11, 2014 1:00pm PT by Philiana Ng
Starz Splitting 'Outlander' Season
Starz is taking a split-season approach for anticipated time-travel drama Outlander.
Outlander, adapted from Diana Gabaldon's best-selling novels and executive produced by Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore, will air the first eight of the 16-episode freshman season when it begins, Aug. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT through Sept. 27, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The cabler will hold the remaining eight episodes for an early 2015 launch.
Starz also will offer an early preview of the first episode, "Sassenach," one week ahead of the official premiere, on Aug. 2 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, in an effort to increase sampling. It will also be available on select cable, satellite and telco affiliates in the U.S. , reaching about 82 million households and online via specific websites, including the Outlander site, Facebook page and Twitter account, as well as Starz's YouTube channel and the Starz Play app.
"We've heard from fans the world over who are anxiously awaiting to see how we've brought Claire and Jamie to life in what may possibly be the most highly anticipated series in Starz history," said Chris Albrecht, Starz CEO, ahead of Friday's summer press tour presentation. "Our Outlander sampling strategy serves the dual purpose of giving early access to the series premiere for those fans thirsting to watch it as soon as possible, as well as providing a vehicle that introduces the Starz experience to prospective new subscribers who are eager to learn all about this great new series."
In February, Moore discussed the possibility of a split-season model for Outlander's rollout, something broadcast and cable networks have increasingly relied upon, much like AMC's treatment of The Walking Dead and the final seasons of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, as well as ABC's drama strategy to name just a few.
"I know I don't want to do it like Galactica, where fans kept getting confused about when we were on. It felt like we were broadcast randomly at times. They would split the season and then we'd be on a different night; there was no rhyme or reason to it. I don't know that I have a preference between eight-and-eight or 16," Moore told THR at the time.
Outlander revolves around Jamie (Sam Heughan), who ignites a passionate affair with Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743 and thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. Claire is pulled between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
For Starz, Outlander — often described as an expansive Game of Thrones-esque saga targeting females — comes at an opportune time as the network seeks to find a tentpole series. It's part of a scripted portfolio that includes dramas Da Vinci's Demons, Black Sails, Power and the upcoming Flesh and Bone, as well as forthcoming comedy Survivor's Remorse.