“I don’t think so, but it’s not impossible. [David Lynch and I are] both avoiding the conversation for a while; we want to let the story coalesce and see how people feel at the end,” Showtime CEO David Nevins told reporters Monday night at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour event on the Paramount lot.
Despite coming with a built-in fan base, Twin Peaks: The Return came with nearly three years of hype since Showtime announced that the cult hit would be returning. The road to the screen, however, wasn’t as easy as co-creator Lynch briefly dropped out over budget concerns with the premium cable network. All told, it pushed the show’s premiere back a year after it was originally envisioned to bow in 2016 — timed to its 25th anniversary.
Linear viewership has been nothing to write home about: It opened with a modest 619,000 total viewers before growing to 804,000. Instead, most of the revival’s viewership is coming from alternative platforms, including the OTT Showtime app and subscriber tie-in Showtime Anytime.
Still, to hear Nevins tell it, the executive is pleased with the return on what is said to be a very sizable financial investment in Twin Peaks.
“I’m really happy with the performance. It drove our business in a way that almost nothing else could. It’s been interesting and maybe it’s a blinding glimpse of how Netflix looks at the world, but [it had] a palpable effect on subscribers, even though its overall numbers are not as big as our biggest shows,” said the exec. “But it’s had a very palpable effect on subscribers for multiple months now.”
While Nevins confessed that Twin Peaks was not as big as Showtime’s top performers like veteran Shameless or Ray Donovan, it still helped corporate parent CBS turn in an impressive second quarter. CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves told investors Monday that Twin Peaks led to a “terrific quarter” for the cabler. That included increases in subscriptions for its streaming service — with Showtime said to have accounted for more than half of the projected 4 million subscribers between its OTT service and CBS All Access.
“It’s a way higher proportion of streaming than anything else,” Nevins said of the Twin Peaks viewership. “The second quarter has always been our weakest quarter and [operating income] was up 11 percent and you can assume that Showtime was up a higher percentage to drive that. That’s new subscriptions driven largely by Twin Peaks was the biggest factor in that. It did its job for being such an unusual show for us.”
As for when a formal decision about the future of Twin Peaks would come in, Nevins said Lynch has been in France since the show’s May premiere event and conversations would not begin until after the season wraps its run with a two-hour finale over the Labor Day weekend.
“I promise we’re not even going to have those conversations until the thing airs. David Lynch has been in France pretty much since the premiere event we had,” Nevins said.
Asked if he would have done anything different surrounding the Twin Peaks return, Nevins pointed to the budget dispute Showtime had with Lynch. “I would have given him the deal three weeks earlier,” he said.
Revivals continue to have mixed results on broadcast, premium and streaming outlets. NBC recently renewed its Will & Grace revival for a second season before production on the first season even began. Talks about more Gilmore Girls remain open-ended after its rebirth on Netflix. Still to come: ABC’s Roseanne reboot, which launches midseason.
As for Showtime’s current slate, the verdict is still out on low-rated freshman drama I’m Dying Up Here. Nevins told The Hollywood Reporter that the options on the show’s writers have been renewed for a second season, though an official pickup on the series would not come until after the network could review returns on how its Jim Carrey-produced stand-up dramedy performs in its new post-Ray Donovan slot.