Showtime’s new skeins get big push

'Weeds,' 'Barbershop' get cabler's full attention

Showtime is giving an extra big push to upcoming comedies “Weeds” and “Barbershop,” slating each series to run alternate nights at 10, seven days a week.

That means “Weeds” will air Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — and get an extra Sunday run at 10:30 — while “Barbershop” will air Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Episodes will also repeat immediately after fresh ones at 10:30 p.m. (except for Sunday).

Laffers will each receive at least seven plays during the week. That’s in addition to repeats aired outside primetime.

“As a nonadvertiser-supported premium network, Showtime does not need to drive viewers to one particular night and timeslot, so this plan will better satisfy the demands of our customers who tend to live in households with the greatest number of channels available,” Showtime entertainment topper Robert Greenblatt said.

Multiplay strategy is part of Showtime’s growing efforts to emphasize an episode’s cumulative rating — the sum of a week’s worth of plays — as opposed to the premiere play. Pay net ran into trouble launching recent skeins “Huff,” which never took off (series high was 462,000 viewers), and “Fat Actress,” which lost steam quickly after a strong debut.

But according to the cabler, ratings for “Fat Actress” and “The L Word” replays doubled the reach of the premiere plays. Showtime execs also have long touted anecdotal evidence suggesting most subscribers access series via on-demand, a service not yet measured by Nielsen. Showtime’s on-demand service is available to more than 4 million subs.

HBO also has been increasingly aggressive about directing subscribers to second and third plays of such series as “Deadwood,” “Entourage” and “The Comeback.” Cabler has employed more expansive multiplay strategies for miniseries events “Band of Brothers,” “Angels in America” and recently “Empire Falls.”

“Weeds” stars Mary-Louise Parker as a suburban mom who sells marijuana to get by after her husband unexpectedly dies. Creator Jenji Kohan exec produces. “Barbershop” features Omar Gooding in a small-screen spin-off of the MGM feature. John Ridley, Robert Teitel, George Tillman, Jr., Ice Cube and Matt Alvarez exec produce.

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