TCA: Nevins Touts Advantages Over Broadcast

Beverly Hills, Calif. — Nearly one week after his predecessor, NBC Entertainment chairman and former Showtime chief Bob Greenblatt complained during the TCA summer press tour of the advantages held by cable networks, Showtime Networks president David Nevins acknowledged enjoying an edge in certain areas over his broadcast competitors when it comes to programming.

“It’s one of the luxuries of where I sit,” Greenblatt said Friday, responding to a question during his press tour executive session about planning the end of long-running series well in advance. “You’re less buffeted by market forces [than in broadcast]. It’s less about we’re losing revenue in that time period that we could be making through higher ratings.”

On Sunday, Greenblatt said that cable networks can “go into subject matter that just feels cooler” than what broadcast can do. Nevins talked Friday about being able to experiment with portrayals of sex on shows like Masters of Sex and the upcoming The Affair.

“I think it’s really interesting that we can get into that certain side of humanity and human relationships with a depth that’s hard to do in broadcast media, because there’s such squeamishness about sex,” Nevins said. He also noted that he anticipates Showtime doing more documentary series along the lines of the recent Years of Living Dangerously. “That kind of programming, that sort of deep-dive, long series to look at something, I definitely think it’s a good form of programming for us,” Nevins said, adding, “I think it’s one of the things that we can do in pay cable, go with depth into a difficult subject that’s probably not cut out for broadcast television.”

Nevins addressed the issue of Emmy categories, and the network’s decision to submit Shameless, formerly entered in drama categories, as a comedy.

“I don’t envy the TV category trying to categorize,” Nevins said. “I think there’s always a degree of arbitrariness.” He defended the decision to move Shameless, saying producer John Wells “always wanted it to be a comedy.”

Nevins added later, when discussing miniseries and anthology series, “I think we all cry foul when True Detective takes up two best actor slots.”

Other highlights from the panel included:

*Nevins said that the status of Happyish, the comedy series that had been slated to star Philip Seymour Hoffman before the actor’s death in February, is undecided but that the project could still continue. “I’m now sitting on five scripts from [creator Shalom Auslander] that I think are brilliant,” he said. “If I can cast it the right way, it’s something I’ll probably make it. But there’s no guarantees.”

*Asked whether Microsoft’s decision to close Xbox Studios would affect plans for the Halo series, based on the videogame, that Showtime and Microsoft are partnering on, Nevins said, “I don’t think so.” He added that conversations with Microsoft around Halo “are ongoing.”

*Regarding the possibility that Showtime would invest in scripted miniseries or anthology series, as FX has done with Fargo and American Horror Story and HBO has done with True Detective, Nevins said, “I’m fundamentally focused on renewable assets where we can bring it back.” But, he added, “ I wouldn’t rule it out.”