TCA Mop-Up: Showtime's Very, Very Good Year And Greenblatt's Daily Nightmare

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TCA is v. v. intense, but - in the interest of mop-up - here are some tidbits from the Showtime executive session…

Showtime prez. Greenblatt and Matt Blank on the network’s numbers this year, landing Sopranos’ Edie Falco, some Call Girl (starring Dr. Who’s Billie Piper, from season one), Greenblatt’s on-going nightmare and the network’s subscriber growth.

"We also premiered the second season of "Brotherhood," and last September, along with

"Dexter," raised those ratings about 50 percent which was a great growth for that show…

….this past June, we brought "Weeds" back to the schedule, the fourth season, on the 16th of June, and… though we all hoping for the best, I think we

were even surprised about the ratings for the fourth season premiere. It was the highest-rated episode of scripted television we’ve had since 2004 when Nielsen started breaking out the plexes. So we can’t even compare it to prior shows before 2004, but we had a record 1.35 million viewers just for the very first airing of the show.

Then as it aired the first week across multiplays, the show came in at, I think, almost 3.4 million viewers for the week, which for us, we’ve never broken anything close to 3 million.

So that was a pretty extraordinary milestone for us.

And the show has been averaging about 3 million viewers a week in the last five or six weeks that it’s been on. So we feel that there’s, you know, some real momentum there.

And then right behind it on the 16th of June, we premiered "The Secret Diary of a

Call Girl," which was our new show from the UK… broke records for us as well. It became the highest-rated premiere for new series for us, and it’s been holding…really strong as well.

On the original programming front, it was..a very, very productive year.

iTunes is one of these strange measures of success…we’ve had such

great success with our season boxes of shows on iTunes, we are consistently in the top 15 or 20 downloaded TV seasons every single week.

In fact, I looked this morning before coming over here, and right now the "Weeds" Season 3 is number 6 on the list. "Dexter" Season 2 is number 8, and "Weeds" Season 1 is number 14. It’s just interesting to see how our little show is infiltrating that top 15, like I said, virtually every single week. So that was the past year.

we had a great experience this past fall meeting with Edie [Falco] who had very much wanted to do another series after "The Sopranos."  And I know she met with — I think every network put their hat in the ring, and we just hit it off with her

Per the network’s plans for "Call Girl"  and the differences between British and American business of television:

"….we have made a deal to do, so far, three seasons, which they’re short seasons. They’re eight-episode seasons. You know, the UK develops their shows differently than we do.

They don’t make long long-term deals with actors. So after these first three seasons of eight with Billie Piper, then we’ll revisit whether she continues and see the future of the show.

Here’s how Greenblatt answered a question if he worries about the finite number of talented  creatives/showrunners:

That’s my daily nightmare. I mean every single day, we get up and try to figure out

where’s the next great show coming from, and I believe there are a finite number of great creators out there. And I don’t mean just people who put on hit shows who might do it again, because we’re always looking for the next, you know — the next great show runner

Matt Blank then elaborated:

"… of the nice things that’s happened to us as a result of all the successes we’ve had in the past year or so is that we’ve gone from the second, third, fourth, or maybe last stop on the train to the first stop for a lot of producers and creators so that we sort of — Bob and I talk about it all the time.

Per Showtime’s subscriber growth, Matt Blank had this to say:

I will let our PR folks give you an exact number, but I think there was a period of time — I don’t know if it was March to March or whatever the measurement time was — where

we grew over a million subscribers.  And we’ve said that publicly.  I have to be careful here because this is material financial information, so I just got to make sure that it gets reported to you exactly as it’s been reported to the public, but it was a million sub-growth plus over a year-to-year period.