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Showtime to Debut ‘Dice’ Full Season Ahead of Cable Premiere

Showtime will release all six episodes of its new comedy series “Dice,” starring Andrew Dice Clay, via its streaming services and on-demand April 10 — the same day that the show is set to make its linear its linear-television premiere.

The full first season will be made available to digital and on-demand customers beginning at midnight that morning. The premiere episode will then be broadcast at 9:30 p.m. that evening on Showtime’s core premium cable channel. Subsequent episodes will be broadcast on successive Sundays.

“We’re excited to release DICE in its entirety across our streaming, on demand and authenticated viewing platforms,” said Gary Levine, president of programming for Showtime Networks. “With its six episode run, we feel this comedy is ideally suited to being consumed all at once. We’re always looking for new ways to make our programming stand-out, and we’re confident that a ‘DICE binge’ will appeal to both fans and skeptics alike, and help spread the word about his very funny new Showtime series.”

“Dice” is a scripted comedy inspired by Clay’s life that follows the comedian’s attempt at a career comeback in Las Vegas. The series also stars Kevin Corrigan, with Natasha Leggero, Lorraine Bracco, Adrien Brody, Michael Rapaport, Wayne Newton, Criss Angel and Rita Rudner slated to guest star. It is one of three new Showtime comedies set to premiere this year, along with “Roadies” and “I’m Dying Up Here.”

Showtime is reloading on comedies as its existing roster in the genre is showing age. “House of Lies,” which returns April 10, was renewed last year for for a 10-episode fifth season–two off from its usual 12-episode order. “Shameless” will end its sixth season April 3. “Episodes” was renewed last year for a sixth and final season.

Releasing all episodes of a show for binge watching ahead of the linear premiere has become a popular experiment for television programmers. Starz will do so with the April 10 premiere of executive producer Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience” after having tried it last year with “Da Vinci’s Demons” and “Flesh and Bone.” TBS binge-released the first season of Rashida Jones comedy “Angie Tribeca” pegged to the show’s January premiere after sister network TNT made a similar play last year with Ed Burns drama “Public Morals.” NBC pioneered the practice with David Duchovny drama “Aquarius” last summer.

But such binge releases have yielded mixed results. “Aquarius” was renewed by NBC on the strength of its performance on the network’s digital platforms and Hulu, which parent company NBCUniversal owns a stake in. But the series languished in Nielsen ratings. No premiere date has been set for the second season, nor has it been announced whether NBC will repeat the binge strategy for the show’s return.

On cable, “Public Morals” was canceled after one season. “Angie Tribeca,” the first of a new wave of comedies being rolled out on the network as part of a rebranding by TNT and TBS president Kevin Reilly, had already been picked up for a second season when the debut strategy was announced. The network downplayed ratings expectations for the show ahead of the premiere on the heels of a marketing campaign that Reilly admitted may have confused viewers.

The strategy makes the most obvious sense for premium cable channels, which are increasingly moving toward business models that mirror those associated with digital streaming services. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht as said that the network is looking to explore more direct-to-consumer options and in December announced a deal that allows Amazon Prime customers to subscribe to Starz without a cable subscription. Showtime has similar deals with Hulu and Amazon. Such deals, like standalone services such as HBO Now, unfetter consumers from the linear TV schedule.

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