Sleeper Cell Gets Early Exposure

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Fans of Showtime’s Sleeper Cell series about terrorists among usmay not get much sleep themselves Dec. 10.

That’s the day the network will offer all eight episodes of the second season of the show on-demand, and it happens to be the same day the first episode of the second season premieres on the pay service’s evening schedule.

Showtime will become the first programmer to offer a full season of a series on-demand prior to all of the episodes being shown on the air.

The premium channel hopes the scheduling stunt will help to build awareness and viewership for its Showtime On Demand service, which one-half of all Showtime subscribers currently use, according to Tom Christie, executive vice president of sales for the network.

The sophomore season of the limited series, about the inner workings of a U.S.-based terrorist cell, will air on Showtime on consecutive evenings beginning Dec. 10 and ending Dec. 17.

“We’re offering a tremendous convenience for subscribers, and for operators, it provides a great opportunity for them to promote their VOD offerings,” Christie said. “Overall, it’s a great value for all involved.”

With this scheduling strategy, Showtime is giving cable operators another programming advantage to tout in their battle for subscribers with direct-broadcast satellite services such as EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network and DirecTV.

Other networks such as HBO and Nickelodeon have offered single episodes or films on-demand several weeks in advance of their network premieres. Showtime itself offered the pilot of original series Brotherhood on-demand in July, two weeks before it debuted on its premium network.

Showtime will provide to operators additional on-air and print marketing materials to help promote the offering, according to the network.

For more on Showtime and Sleeper Cell, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page four of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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