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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 30, 2012

'Homeland' Shows Dilemma with Current System of Cable TV Subscriptions

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

The Showtime series “Homeland” illustrates some of the dilemmas with the current model for cable TV subscriptions.

In a recent blog post, All Things D writer Peter Kafka notes there are viewers who want to watch Claire Danes in the popular Showtime series, or other programs from HBO, without paying for cable.

Showtime recently approved a third season of "Homeland,” TMCnet said. Twelve new episodes will be shown next season. To get an idea just how popular “Homeland” is, consider that in October, Episode 5 saw 2.07 million viewers, more than 19 percent more than the previous week, according to data cited by TV Series Finale. Consider too that “Homeland” is also watched On Demand during the week, according to Matt Carter.

Kafka explains that HBO and Showtime make almost all their money from subscriptions to cable TV. Yet, some viewers will pay for seeing individual shows on cable TV, but don’t want to subscribe to the channel offering them. And then there are those who would be willing to subscribe to the premium cable TV channels, but don’t want to pay for a cable service.

In a recent promo ad, Danes and other actors promote Showtime and “Homeland.”

“But I’m told that the financing for this one is pretty one-sided, with Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable footing almost all of the bill,” Kafka said. “People familiar with the ad tell me that Showtime took care of the six-figure bill for Claire Danes’s participation, but everything else is on the cable guys, who will end up spending more than $20 million on the campaign…The ad does speak to the tight, profitable symbiosis between the network and the guys who run the pipes. The Internet isn’t going to break that up anytime soon.”

Still, Showtime is important for owner CBS in other ways: as a proving ground for TV programs. News broke recently that Showtime’s “Under the Dome” will be moving to CBS, according to The Washington Post. It is likely to air during the summer.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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