2:59pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Showtime CEO David Nevins Talks New 'Homeland' Location, Shifting Rollout Strategy, 'Episodes'' End
In his first Television Critics Association's press tour appearance as both president and CEO of Showtime Networks, David Nevins was quick to tout subscriber growth on Tuesday.
A lot has changed for the pay cable network in the last year. In addition to Nevins' new role, quickly followed by Gary Levine's promotion to programming president, Showtime aggressively launched its over-the-top service in 2015 — one that quickly found its way to more platforms than Apple TV-centric HBO Now. "We've grown subscribers virtually every single week since July," said Nevins, who touted presence on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Playstation, in addition to standbys Apple TV and Roku. "And there's been a 50 percent [increase] in paid streaming since the fall premieres of Homeland and The Affair."
Bolstered by the new ways his content is being viewed, Nevins used his executive session to also announce that the network will be rolling out premieres on a different schedule, while updating reporters on the status of Homeland, Episodes and the 2017 revival of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks.
A Change in Premiere Strategy
The Showtime originals rollout, as subscribers have grown used to, quietly wrapped in 2015. "We intend to begin staggering our premieres from Noah's Ark, two by two, to once a month," said Nevins. That started this month, with premieres for Shameless, Billions, The Circus and Dark Web all taking place on different nights of the month. "It probably will [require] incrementally more marketing, because we can't count on a Homeland to launch The Affair as we did ... but 80 percent of the viewing isn't happening in the time period anyway." The increased percentage of non-linear views had Nevins, who referred to his non-cable audience as "cord-cobblers," call 2016 "the year of customized viewing."
Homeland Will Move to New York, Potentially Last Forever
Nevins ended up having a lot to say about the status of Homeland. The exec confirmed that series production will shift back to the U.S. for the upcoming sixth season — one that may or may not include a series regular, whose status on the show was left in limbo during the December finale. "Homeland will be shot in and around New York," Nevins said of the show that has shot in Cape Town and Berlin for the last two years. "I don't know much more than that, but I can confirm that. ... We are in awe of how [showrunner] Alex Gansa and his writing staff reinvent Homeland each year." When pressed about actor Rupert Friend's employment, Nevins offered only this: "I know and have seen exactly as much as you guys have seen ... clearly, there is no definitive answer given."
As for how many years the show can go on, both Nevins and Levine seemed very optimistic about a long future. "I have in vague ways [talked about a finale] with Alex," said Nevins. "He tends to attack his seasons one by one. I think that's one of the strengths of show. Needless to say, it's going to be in their control." Added Levine, "The good news is, it's not imminent."
Twin Peaks Is Well Underway
Perhaps growing tired of the semi-annual inquisition since the series' 2014 revival announcement, reporters did not push Nevins and Levine on the status of Twin Peaks. The room seemed content with the small update that was offered at the top of the presentation. "David [Lynch] is more than half-way through his shooting schedule," said Nevins. "It will premiere in the first quarter of 2017."
Episodes' Days May Be Numbered
Following a portentous tweet from star Matt LeBlanc, saying he was readying to film his final season of comedy Episodes, Levine noted that nothing was official — but the fifth season may be its last. "I think that's a real possibility," said Levine. Episodes has never been a widely watched series for Showtime, but it has sustained a helpful awards-show presence since it debuted in 2011. "We are in the very talent hands of [creators] Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane," said Levine. "They are hard at work on 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."