Homeland Versus HBO Heartland
It’s fitting that TV3′s new 9.30pm Monday award-winner, Homeland, should have premiered only an hour after SoHo’s HBO horse racing drama, Luck.
The race between HBO and the cable channel that commissioned Homeland, Showtime, has never been tighter.
For years HBO has dominated US TV drama production with its stable of iconic award-winners, ranging from The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Sex & the City to True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.
But Showtime has been closing the gap with a similarly impressive slate, including Weeds, Nurse Jackie, The Borgias, Californication, The Tudors, Dexter, The Big C, Shameless and Homeland.
In the US, Homeland averaged far fewer viewers than HBO’s top shows: 4.4 million compared to Boardwalk Empire’s 8.4 million, True Blood’s 12.6 million and Game of Thrones’ 9.3 million, according to the New York Times.
It also lagged behind Showtime’s most popular series, Dexter, which averaged 5.5 million viewers.
In NZ, Nurse Jackie, Californication and The Big C already are popular TV3 staples but the network bombed with Dexter and The Borgias (it’s bought season two of the latter but expect it to air late-night).
TV3′s pulling out all stops to make Homeland a hit, previewing it first online.
“We’re always looking for innovative ways to launch our big new shows,” TV3 programming chief Kelly Martin said when announcing the initiative.
“This is a first for us, and quite possibly a first for New Zealand television. I’m genuinely curious to see how the audience reacts.”
TV3 says non-traditional approaches to TV promotion have paid big dividends internationally.
When Fox TV made episode one of New Girl available online ahead of the US season launch, two million people watched it, and the ensuing word-of-mouth helped its broadcast debut to top 10 million viewers.
New Girl’s Four premiere last week won a 9.6% share of the 18-49 demographic and a 19.1% share of the urban Auckland 18-49 demographic.
TV3 doesn’t provide online viewing data but a spokeswoman says New Girl and Homeland ”did numbers that would make them a top-three VOD [video on demand] show for us.
“Despite not having an established TV audience, the streams were similar to what we get for top VOD shows like 7 Days and X Factor USA. So they really exceeded our expectations.
“New Girl did bigger numbers than Homeland, but not by much.”