Showtime's David Nevins Talks Programming Strategy
David Nevins, pres entertainment for Showtime, dished on his programming strategy, Netflix and multiplatform viewing to TV critics in LA Tues. On programming strategy, Nevins said, “I try hard just to be interesting, make noise… It’s working for us right now.” But with the network in 23 mln homes, there’s “still room to grow,” he said. As far as trends in viewership, he’s seeing some post-season binge viewing and starting to see migration to various platforms and devices.
Asked about whether he pays attention to Netflix, Nevins said yes, but added that “the way we offer programming offers the best of both worlds.” Subs can watch both on demand and live. “Netflix is playing an interesting game,” he said, but ratings are “a function of showmanship… It’s meaningful when I can say Ray Donovan is the biggest first year show we’ve ever had.” He touted the world of premium television, calling it “one of the really creatively vital places in the entertainment media universe right now.” Speaking about Netflix’s strategy he said, “I still believe in the pleasure of giving them out one at a time.” There’s a lot of in-depth criticism and water cooler chatter happening on a weekly basis, and that “can’t happen the same way when everything gets dumped at the same time,” he said.
On the possibility of the network offering a standalone service at some point Nevins said “it would be premature to talk about that” but added that “it’s out there somewhere in the future.” For the moment the net is focused on its TVE service Showtime Anytime and making sure distributors are on board. He expects more of them to sign on shortly, and as of Tues, the service launched a live feed, enabling subs on the east and west coasts to watch the shows on the platform at the same time. The network is up to 10 or 11 scripted comedies and dramas, he said, which is on par with broadcast standards, and “replacing them at a rate of 2 or 3 new shows a year,” he said. “The good thing is we’re premiering new shows that are bigger than the ones they replaced.”
Programming announcements include the following: A doc series about the final days of peoples lives called “Time of Death” premieres this fall. “Penny Dreadful,” a psychological thriller from executive producers John Logan and Sam Mendes and premiering in 2014, has signed on actors Josh Harnett and Eva Green. “Dexter” showrunner Scott Buck inked a 2-year deal with Showtime, an announcement which prompted Nevins to hint at a Dexter spinoff. “We announced a deal with Scott Buck today. Draw your own conclusions,” he told critics. Additionally, actress Ruth Wilson was cast as the lead in the pilot “The Affair” and the net ordered a pilot of the comedy “Trending Down,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, which examines people’s value in our youth-obsessed culture.