Data: ‘Dexter: New Blood’ Gives Showtime Subscriber Infusion

Data: ‘Dexter: New Blood’ Gives Showtime
Yinchen Niu/Variety Intelligence Platform; Dexter: Showtime

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish hailed the Showtime brand Tuesday at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference for its reboot of original series “Dexter,” which he said “set new records really for OTT sign-ups on its premiere night” and was its most watched drama debut ever.   

Data provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform by Apptopia gives a sense of just how much the Showtime streamer benefited from the new title.  

The Nov. 7 “Dexter: New Blood” premiere helped prompt a surge in downloads of the U.S.-only Showtime app early last month. The number of Showtime app downloads on the day following the debut of “Dexter: New Blood” was at least six times greater than that figure during any day between Nov. 1 and 7.  

Mobile only represents a slice of consumers’ SVOD viewing, and it’s possible that much of Showtime’s viewers, as well as other SVODs’ viewers, come from places like connected TVs. But Apptopia’s data still helps give a sense of which titles likely had significant impacts on Showtime’s streamer, which would typically remain tight-lipped on such information. 

“Dexter: New Blood” premiered on the Showtime app at midnight on Nov. 7 and on cable later that day (9 p.m. ET). New episodes of the series have been airing every Sunday since.  

“Dexter: New Blood” takes place 10 years after the final events of the original “Dexter” series, which aired from 2006 to 2013 and won four Emmys. Bringing back what was arguably one of the most popular programs in Showtime’s history was intended to attract the show’s previous fan base and hopefully bring in a new generation of fans.  

It may seem strange that the Showtime download spike occurred one day after the new “Dexter” show premiered. But it’s possible that not everyone who started watching Showtime again because of "Dexter: New Blood” downloaded the app the day the series premiered.  

“Many people get Showtime, watch on TV and then download the app later now that they are a subscriber. With streaming, downloads coming in after day-of events is very normal,” Apptopia VP of insights Adam Blacker told VIP+. 

It’s also possible that the finales of “American Rust” and “The Circus” on Nov. 7 contributed to the Nov. 8 Showtime download spike. But a “Dexter” series coming back after an eight-year hiatus seems like the title to be mostly responsible for driving people who didn’t already have the Showtime app to download it.  

Apptopia estimates no other major video streaming app was downloaded in the U.S. more than Showtime in the two days following the debut of “Dexter: New Blood” but also that the Showtime app failed to experience any surge in U.S. downloads between Nov. 8 and the end of last month. 

The fact that Showtime didn’t spike again in downloads during the remainder of November may seem curious for a couple of reasons.  

For one, episodes of “Dexter: New Blood” still dropped on Nov. 14, 21 and 28. You might expect at least some download activity during those dates that signals interest in the new “Dexter” title. 

And second, there was still notable content that debuted on Showtime later in the month. “Yellowjackets” was described by Bakish on Tuesday as something that “quickly became Showtime’s second biggest OTT series to be.”  

Despite that potential download pull-forward effect from “Dexter: New Blood,” the total month-over-month change in U.S. downloads of Showtime in November was still by far greater than that of any other major video streamer. 

Back in VIP+'s “Dare to Stream” special report published in August, we suggested rebooting old series as a streaming growth strategy for Showtime and speculated that the “Dexter” revival seemed likely to generate new sign-ups given how buzzy the original series was. 

ViacomCBS doesn’t break out how many streaming subscribers Showtime has specifically. The company in November reported that it counted 46.7 million global streaming subscribers across all of its streaming products (including Paramount+, Showtime, BET+ and Noggin) at the end of September.

Meanwhile, in September 2020, WSJ reported that Showtime counted 7 million streaming subs.  

And although Apptopia’s data above could technically be reflective of some consumers who downloaded the Showtime app but never subscribed, the third-party firm’s estimates on Showtime’s in-app purchase (IAP) revenue during the month of November suggests that “Dexter: New Blood” did help meaningfully boost subscriptions. 

The IAP revenue metric from Apptopia measures revenue from one-off purchases and subscriptions purchased in video streaming apps. Transactions that occurred outside of apps (i.e., on a website on a mobile device or laptop) are not captured by Apptopia’s IAP revenue metric.  

Subscribe to VIP+ to read how Showtime’s in-app purchase revenue fluctuated throughout the month of November and compared with that of the other major video streaming apps.