HBO Puts Muscle Behind Rome

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Looking to build audience for its key show this year, Home Box Office has pushed up the launch of Rome to coincide with the network’s free preview in late August, with the premium service also debuting the drama’s third episode on HBO On Demand, a first-time event, officials said Wednesday.

HBO had planned to debut 12-part Rome in September, but the premium service moved that up to Aug. 28 to maximize sampling of the early episodes, according to the network. The drama will now will be available seven days per week on the HBO multiplexes, but it will also be the centerpiece of HBO’s free-preview weekend Sept. 3-7.

As part of this initiative, in a first-ever HBO On Demand exclusive, HBO will make Rome’sthird episode, “An Owl in a Thornbush,” available on its video-on-demand platform starting Sept. 5, in advance of its Sept. 11 debut on the core network.

The premium service is touting this as its most aggressive viewership campaign for a new series, as Romeinitially will be presented in much of the country to non-HBO subscribers through the free preview, and it will also be playing on three of HBO’s plex channels and on HBO On Demand.

Each of the first three episodes will be scheduled so that it can be seen seven days per week at varying times on either HBO, HBO2 or HBO Signature. In addition, throughout the series’ run, the previous week’s episode will air Sundays at 8 p.m., leading up to the debut of that week’s new installment.

HBO’s free preview will feature episode one, “The Stolen Eagle,” and episode two, “How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic,” along with the third episode on-demand.

“Our goal is to put Romein front of every demo and every audience segment by appearing every day of the week and in all of the appropriate time slots from 8 p.m. to late-night,” HBO executive vice president of program planning Dave Baldwin said in a prepared statement.

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