Whereas HBO balked, bowing to the inherent greatness and power that is the National Football League’s most spectacular event, its rival Showtime will face the challenge head on.
The network recently announced that instead of going ahead with reruns as initially planned, they will counter the Super Bowl with brand new episodes of its original shows, ‘Shameless,’ ‘House of Lies,’ and ‘Episodes.’
One of the reasons for the decision was the reception of last week’s episode of ‘Shameless,’ which despite going against a very close and entertaining NFC Championship game saw its audience grow.
So Showtime will forge ahead with William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, and Matt LeBlanc, while HBO, on the other hand, changed around its lineup, moving ‘Girls’ and ‘Looking’ to Saturday while simply delaying ‘True Detective.’
“We’ve looked at the competitive landscape, and we have an opportunity to be one of the few scripted alternatives on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Showtime executive Kim Lemon. It’s a bold move by the network, especially considering the similarities in demographics for the major sporting event and their lineup, a series of darkly comic shows with foul language and illicit sex.
PBS is one place where audiences can find the aforementioned "few" scripted originals, as just like last year, they will air a new episode of ‘Downton Abbey’ (with as well the season finale of ‘Sherlock’). However, not only does ‘Downton’ appeal to a widely different audience, and already succeeded in the same slot last year, but they don’t need to solicit advertising dollars like Showtime does.
All that being said, the two-hour block of programming begins at 9 p.m. EST and then repeats at 11 p.m. and again at 1 a.m., by which time the game should be over (barring power outrages, snow storms, and overtimes).
The NFL has consistently scored impressive and occasionally unprecedented ratings this season, and last year’s Super Bowl was seen by a robust 108.4 million viewers.
The showcase this year takes place in New Jersey, and begins on FOX on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 6:30/5:30c between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.