Showtime Sticking With Series On Super Sunday

Showtime said it has decided to air new episodes of three original series on Sunday night, Feb. 2, against the Super Bowl after earlier planning to punt them for a week in lieu of re-runs of Shameless, House of Lies and Episodes.

This declaration came a day after HBO said it would air a movie (This Is 40) in early prime time (7:40-10 p.m. ET/PT) instead of back-to-back episodes of its new original series True Detective. In addition, HBO is moving the airdate of new episodes of original series Girls and Looking to Saturday, Feb. 1, before airing them at their normal times of 10 and 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2.

The Super Bowl, of course, is the biggest TV event of the year (on Fox this year). This year's rating could set a record, given that the game will be played outdoors in wintry New Jersey. On the other hand, if the weather is frightful, the game might be moved to a different night altogether.

In a release from Showtime, Kim Lemon, EVP of program planning, scheduling and research at Showtime Networks Inc., said: "The strength and performance of our three winter shows has been remarkable. We’ve looked at the competitive landscape, and we have an opportunity to be one of the few scripted alternatives on Super Bowl Sunday. Shameless went head-to-head last week against the strongest NFL championship game we’ve seen in 19 years, and still grew its audience 17 percent year-over-year. Part of our promise to our audience, is to be there with fresh episodes every week. If the 100 million plus viewers who watch the Super Bowl prefer to watch a replay of our series after the game or later in the week, on demand or on Showtime Anytime, then that’s totally fine with us.”

New seasons of Shameless (9 p.m. ET/PT), House Of Lies (10) and Episodes (10:30) "have all retained their audiences year over year, despite facing very competitive Sunday schedules over the past couple of weeks, including one of the all-time highest-rated NFC championship games," Showtime said. More than 70% of Showtime subscribers watch the network's series on a time-shifted basis, it said. Shameless is currently averaging 5.4 million weekly viewers across platforms and House of Lies is averaging 3 million weekly viewers, both even with their prior seasons, it said. Episodes is delivering 2 million weekly viewers, up 13% versus its second season, per Showtime.

Pictured: Steve Howey as Kevin Ball in Shameless (Season 4, episode 4). Photo: Greg Gayne/SHOWTIME.