Step Aside, Cord Cutters and Cord-Nevers. Showtime Is Targeting ‘Cord Cobblers’

CEO says 2016 will be 'the year of customized viewing'

We've heard about cord cutters, cord shavers and cord-nevers. Now, Showtime has a new term to add to the growing vernacular: cord cobblers.

That's how Showtime's president and CEO, David Nevins, referred to his subscribers while discussing the evolution of his premium cable network at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

"2016 is going to be the year of customized viewing," Nevins said. "Today's audiences are cord cobblers, individuals and households who creatively manage their content consumption with an assortment of subscriptions that work uniquely for their needs." Because of the availability of its stand-alone streaming service on iTunes, Roku and Android devices, and as add-on subscriptions for Hulu, Amazon Prime and PlayStation Vue, Showtime has "availability and visibility wherever those cord cobblers reside," he said.

While Nevins insisted that he didn't make up the term, a Google search during his panel yielded only 11 results for "cord cobblers," only one of which was TV-related.

Nevins said cord cobbling "increases pressure to every week deliver consistently throughout the year, and it's definitely one of the reasons why we made the strategic choice to allow both Hulu and Amazon Prime to sell us as an add on."

Nevins, who assumed CEO duties this month, said, "We are absolutely clear that every decision we make must ultimately come back to driving quality programming and a great consumer experience."

Showtime's streaming service, which launched six months ago, "has allowed us to transform our company and significantly diversify our distribution," Nevins said. "I'm happy to say it's working really well."

But that's as specific as Nevins would get. "I'm not at liberty to give any hard numbers, … but it's well exceeded where we expected to be at this point," he said. "It's clearly working." 

"In this new easy-to-sign-up, easy-to-cancel world, we have grown subscribers virtually every week since we began in July," said Nevins, adding that paid streaming subscriptions are up  50 percent since the fall premieres of Homeland and The Affair.

And Showtime's stand-alone service is already changing the way Nevins is scheduling original shows. "We intend to keep our subscribers engaged throughout the year," he said. "We intend to begin staggering our premieres from a Noah's Ark pattern of launches—two by two—to having a new series premiere almost every month of the year."

Nevins revealed that Homeland will be set in and around New York next season and said he's had "vague" talks about an end date with showrunner Alex Gansa. However, Gary Levine, Showtime's president of programming, said Gansa "sees many seasons to come."

The network's eagerly anticipated revival of Twin Peaks is more than halfway through its shooting schedule and will debut "in the first half of 2017," Nevins said.

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