WE KNOW SHOWTIME’S VIEWERS WATCH HBO. STATSOCIAL KNOWS WHICH SHOWS! PART ONE

Aug 23, 2016 | Insights

To get you up to speed, there are entries very much like this here. And you can have the whole danged thing explained in detail in the first entry here, except substitute Showtime for Netflix. You’ll be glad you did.

Also, Showtime’s upcoming revival of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks does not yet have a social media presence. We’d have been thrilled to have included it in this survey otherwise.

Ray Donovan logo

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Unsurprising that one of Showtime’s biggest and highest profile shows — dark and challenging as it may be — would have an audience rather profoundly more so tuned in to the same network, as opposed to the competition. At least when looked at in terms of raw numbers.

Donovan’s flaws notwithstanding, it features a powerful lead performance from the always great Liev Schreiber. And it does remind us that Jon Voight is still a gifted actor when he chooses to be. As George Costanza once told us, “If you can play Joe Buck, Oskar Schindler’s a cakewalk.” While neither Buck nor Schindler, it’s also not cringingly bad. So, we say well done, and that we agree with George. Midnight Cowboy forgives all sins, except possibly Anaconda.

ANYWAY — when sorted by our “multiple” metric as these charts are — calculating this audience’s likelihood of being part of another show’s audience, when compared to the average social media user — we see they’re 25 times more likely than the average social media user to watch True Detective (and these are recent numbers, so yes that does include the incredibly divisive season two). We can’t speak for either the network nor the creators of Ray Donovan, but were we the marketers of the exceedingly gritty — and maybe a touch weird — Donovan, we’d take this as a sign that we were probably nailing it. On a core level this suggests the desired audience is being reached.

Not that the shows are alike, as they’re not, but they share an energy and sense of dread, deliberately. That metric says the energy you’re putting out there is being picked up by those most receptive to it.

(As we’ve cited in previous entries recently: Our series of entries comparing Chick-fil-A’s audience to that of Shake Shack — which you can check out by clicking the underlined text — really illustrates how much the “multiple” metric can flesh out, or even just plain change the narrative.)

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Does anyone remember the early days of Showtime, say circa late-70s/early-80s? The well mustachioed Bill Harris was sort of the inadvertent face of the network, with his seemingly perpetual Hollywood updates, and celebrity gossip. Not only did he have his own half hour show, he would also offer quick updates between programs.

Bill Harris from Hollywood

And perhaps even more memorable to those of us who were young men at the time was the pretty indefensible — as these were shown all hours of the day or night — series of interstitials called Aerobicise. These clips featured women more scantily clad than even the greatest exhibitionist in the most revealing gym gear, doing exercises no one but a professional dancer could possibly do.

As you never knew when it would be on, as it was strictly something shown between shows, at whatever odd time they pleased, you couldn’t precisely plan an exercise regimen based on it.

And it wasn’t shot in a coherent manner, anyway, but it was shot in a manner so lurid that 35-years later we can’t include a clip here (the curious can go to YouTube).

Aeroboicise

Moving on a couple of years…

Showtime did not just throw their hat in the ring when it came to original programming, they were the first to attempt to sell a show into regular broadcast syndication. That show was the sitcom Brothers, about three blue collar Philadelphia brothers in their 30s and 40s, one of whom in the series pilot comes out as gay. The various episodes — at least early on — revolved around the macho blue collar brothers assimilating to their youngest brother’s new lifestyle. It did not, suffice to say, take syndication by storm. But even the attempt — deliberately making 100 episodes, etc. — was gutsy.

But much as he broke down walls for HBO only a few years later, Showtime’s original programming was probably first legitimized — at least critically — by the late, great comedian Garry Shandling.

By reviving a device used on such 50s sitcoms as The Jack Benny Show and Burns and Allen — which was breaking the fourth wall and acknowledging openly that he was in and you were watching a TV show — he seemed like some kind of post-modern innovator with his It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.

Original device or not, the show was funny and that’s what really mattered.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8cWbkWTYwTw

Toward the end of its Showtime run, in the late-80s, the then fledgling FOX network included repeats of the show — episodes that had run recently on Showtime — in its Sunday night line-up. It was indeed, during its brief “network” life, the lowest rated show on television.

But they didn’t care, as the FOX thing was an afterthought. For Showtime the show was only a winner.

In the late 70s, CBS had run one season of a one hour dramatic series based on the 1973 film The Paper Chase, set in Harvard Law School and centered on a battle of wills between a first year law student and his notoriously humorless and brutal contracts professor. The film won actor John Houseman, who played the professor, a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Houseman returned for the series, and it was critically praised and Emmy winning, but canceled after one season in 1979.

In 1983, to the surprise of nearly everyone, Showtime got that show’s two leads, John Houseman and a young — but now quite conspicuously four years older — actor named James Stephens to reprise their roles, and revived the dead property for a season two, seeing the show through all the way to four seasons.

Paper Chase

Actors James Stephens and John Houseman of Showtime’s revived ‘The Paper Chase’

Critics for the most part raved, and as Showtime was in far fewer homes than their chief competitor, HBO, the attention was crucial to their expansion as a network. In those days, their shows were strictly cult stuff. The idea of a national sensation, taking home shopping carts full of awards, like Homeland seemed the wildest of pipe dreams.

ANYWAY –

That’s your history lesson for today, back to stats.

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Circus

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Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, hosts of Bloomberg Television’s With All Due Respect, are the ringmasters of this weekly review of the most, um, let’s diplomatically call it interesting and unlikely presidential race we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes. While always an accurate way of characterizing a presidential race, the series had its title before the producers could possibly have known how apt it would be.

We’re not sure how to interpret these stats. Three of the five HBO shows are non-fiction shows like The Circus, and two of them — Maher and Oliver — are overtly political in orientation. VEEP is of course a rather vicious satire of presidential politics, so it makes perfect sense on the list. But, the still yet to air, J.J. Abrams produced TV adaptation of Michael Crichton’s 1973 film, Westworld, somehow finds its audience 26 times more likely to find fans among The Circus’ audience than the average social media audience. This is based on an analysis of the collected interests, likes, dislikes, geographic locations, habits, etc, of The Circus’ fans. We can assure you our algorithms draw these conclusions with eerie accuracy, and that if we were marketers that is not a result we’d disregard out of hand.

Also of tremendous curiosity is not that this audience is likely to watch the Showtime / BBC Two co-production, Episodes; a rather successful show for the network. But that they’re 101 times more likely to watch Episodes than the average audience.

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A perennial on the competition, that’s of course HBO, for over 30 years, this weekly review of the preceding weekend’s NFL games has found its home on Showtime since 2008.

Its HBO results make sense. Particularly Real Sports, (5 times multiple, but still only 0.75% of the audience is shared). But these Showtime results surprise a bit, as they lean toward the more adult content — although the network is a bit notorious for being raunchier in general than all the other cable networks.

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The Affair

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This Golden Globe winning series does what it says on the tin. It depicts an extramarital affair, and the fallout of that affair. It depicts not just the struggles of the couple cheating, but — surely in its second season — the spouses who were cheated on are explored as well, as they try to get on with their lives. Their marriages having dissolved (spoiler?).

The shocker here by far is to see HBO’s post-cataclysmic event (more so than post-apocalyptic) drama The Leftovers top any list. But it tops this one — again, sorted by multiple — in a big way, with The Affair’s audience 12 and a half times more likely to watch the Justin Theroux starring drama than the average social media user.

Theroux being one of our contemporary society’s superhunks, we have a feeling our answer is found quite simply in the most basic of demographics we report.

Affair sex breakdown

The Leftovers itself has a slightly more female audience than it does male, 52% to 48%. Theroux very possibly being the reason, but the show’s grim dystopian premise is still butch enough to have the split nearly even.

Regardless, if your wife watches The Affair, chances are she wishes you were Justin Theroux. Sorry.

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Shameless

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Britain’s Channel 4 got like 13 seasons (or, rather, as they say there “series”) of this sitcom out of it before it left the Blighty airwaves in 2013.

Showtime’s American remake is itself already seven seasons in. We won’t sell it short by trying to sum up years of either version, but basically it’s about a family in Chicago, the patriarch of which — played by Oscar nominated actor William H. Macy — is a deadbeat drunk and drug addict. The program depicts this dysfunctional family, as the kids learn to fend for themselves and grow and thrive, without much in the way of adult guidance.

The low, or rather more frequently non-showings, of HBO’s Silicon Valley on these lists is always so disappointing as the show is so excellent. But at least it just creeps in, with a multiple score suggesting Shameless’ fans are nearly three times more likely to be Silicon fans that the average. But of course they’re two and a half times more likely still to be fans of True Detective.

The high showing of HBO’s now canceled, and perhaps deserving of more of a chance, Looking, is noteworthy. And a multiple of six and a half is nothing to sneeze at. One hates to reduce Looking to being “the gay show” but that was its central focus, which we’re just bringing to light here as this illustrates the sort of metric which might prompt a marketer to dig a bit deeper into an audience’s make-up and interests.

PART TWO IS COMING TOMORROW. So put on your dancing shoes.

Hit us up on Twitter if you have any thoughts on any of the matters addressed anywhere within any of these entries.

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