“Cleopatra,” the Robert Halmi Sr.-produced miniseries set to air on ABC this month, will have an unusual encore in July when the made-for is offered by satcaster DirecTV as a pay-per-view telecast.
DirecTV, the nation’s largest satcaster with more than 7 million subscribers, has been experimenting with PPV programming options over the past year in its campaign to distinguish the satellite TV service from rival cable operators.
The satcaster offers original drama series as weekly PPV offerings under the “Action Adventure Network” umbrella. Last May, DirecTV cut a deal with Columbia TriStar TV to offer same-day PPV telecasts of the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” much to the Peacock’s chagrin.
For Halmi and Hallmark Entertainment, the PPV window on DirecTV offers an untapped source of domestic revenue, albeit a limited one. DirecTV is said to have had a surprisingly strong response to the “Days” PPV telecasts, but the four-hour “Cleopatra” costume drama won’t have the same appeal as an established daytime serial with a loyal following.
However, the “Days” experiment has proven that some DirecTV subscribers will shell out $1.50-$2 for the luxury of catching a time-shifted telecast of a program that is available on free TV.
Reps for DirecTV declined to comment on the “Cleopatra” deal, while reps for Halmi and Hallmark could not be reached Tuesday. “Cleopatra” — starring newcomer Leonor Varela as the queen of the Nile, Billy Zane as Marc Antony and Timothy Dalton as Julius Caesar — is set to air May 23 and 24 on ABC.