Showtime President David Nevis took some questions during this week's Television Critics Association press tour and spoke of two key upcoming series for the network - the second season of "Penny Dreadful" and the proposed live-action "Halo" TV series which Steven Spielberg is executive producing.
Despite the shuttering of Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Studios, the "Halo" series is still going forward and Showtime remains in talks with the company about co-producing the series:
"My understanding is that they decided not to build a new streaming service, and they decided not to make the investment in that. On the other hand, the conversations about Halo are ongoing with those guys. It’s their premium property, and there’s enormous will in the company to do the right thing, or find a way to bring it to a new medium, in an exciting way. If we can put all the pieces together, it’s still something that’s possible."
He noted that the show would require a big financial commitment on Showtime's part and would air on the premium network rather than just the Xbox exclusively. If it works though, it could become a big genre franchise for the network.
One big genre project for them right now though is "Penny Dreadful" which scored fascinating and vocal critical reaction and solid ratings for its first season. Nevis spoke a bit about what we might expect to see in next year's second season and suggests one key guest star from this year will become the main villain for the second outing:
"It’s a really big cosmology, and it’s going to get bigger next year. There are four characters in the middle - Sir Malcolm, Vanessa, Ethan and Dr. Frankenstein. Those characters will remain in the middle, but there’s a great antagonist for next year, which is going to be played by Helen McCrory, who you saw introduced this year, but there are things that will be revealed about her character. She was very deliberately planted this year to become the Season 2 antagonist.
The Season 1 antagonist was an inhuman character. I think it’s going to be good for the storytelling and the characters to have a more human antagonist. Maybe four years down the road, you can spin something off, but I like its sprawlingness. That’s what’s fun about it. It’s a show that you can crawl inside of, and then just live there.
We’re only just getting started. There are so many places. Season 1 spent a lot of time just bringing characters on screen and touching on them. Season 2 will really be about deepening those relationships, and the complications between the characters."
With time-shifted viewing now accounting for such a large part of a TV show's ratings, Nevins and other executives from CBS, Fox and FX used the TCA as a platform to lobby for the discarding of Live+Same Day ratings (aka. overnight ratings).
FX has confirmed they will no longer issue Live+Same Day ratings anymore in press releases, instead opting for Live+3, Live+7 and 30-Day multi-platform results. Nevins revealed that Showtime's "Homeland" sees only around one-third of the total audience for each episode watching said episode during its live broadcast.