As Homeland Ends Next Season, Showtime Wants to Keep Shameless Going for Years

The network's programming budget will soon increase 'significantly'

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Showtime isn’t a network that likes to say goodbye—to its shows or its subscribers—which it why it tries to keep its biggest hits continuing for as long as they can.
“When you’re talking about some of the best shows on television, shows that are growing in popularity over time, whose audiences are eagerly awaiting the return of their favorite characters, why exactly would we want them to end?” said Showtime Networks president and CEO David Nevins on Monday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Los Angeles.
While Nevins hopes that his longest-running series like Shameless and Ray Donovan continue for several more years, he is reluctantly saying farewell to another signature Showtime series, Homeland, which he announced will end after its eighth season, set to debut next June.
“I cannot say enough about how much Homeland has meant for the acceleration of our brand,” said Nevins, who was eager to keep the series going “if everybody wanted to.” However, showrunner Alex Gansa and star Claire Danes decided that the time was right to conclude Homeland after Season 8.
The network sees no end in sight to Shameless, which averaged 8 million viewers weekly in Season 8, making it “the most-watched season in Showtime history,” said Nevins.
With an audience that has grown each season, “that show defies gravity,” said president of programming Gary Levine of Shameless. “Our feeling there is that the Gallagher family and that unique tonality of that show can live on as families and people live on.”
The ultimate decision, though, will be up to Shameless executive producer John Wells and Nancy Pimental, as well as stars Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy.
But Nevins doesn’t feel the same way about his entire scripted slate. “Some shows need to build to an end,” like The Affair, which will end after next season, he said.
The CEO shared a ratings breakdown of Shameless in Season 8 to explain how streaming and delayed viewing has changed how people consume episodes. Only 20 percent of Shameless’ 8 million viewers watch the episode live on Sunday night. Another 17 percent caught the series in linear replays later in the week, 19 percent watched on their DVRs over the next seven days, 14 percent viewed it via linear VOD and the remaining 30 percent streamed it on Showtime Anytime or the Showtime OTT app.
“We’re not ad-supported, so viewers choosing to watch on their own timetable is fine with us, as long as they continue subscribing,” said Nevins, adding that several of Showtime’s other younger-skewing shows, including the new Sacha Baron Cohen series Who Is America?, have similar audience breakdowns.
Similar to what AT&T is doing at HBO, Nevins said Showtime’s programming budget will increase “significantly” over the next several years: “With every step, we will be providing more and more reasons to subscribe to our service.”
Echoing remarks earlier in press tour from HBO’s Casey Bloys and FX’s John Landgraf, Nevins stressed that he won’t sacrifice quality for quantity. “There are a lot of people chasing tonnage,” he said, taking a clear swipe at Netflix. “We are chasing distinctiveness. We want each and every one of our launches to make noise and have impact in a broader cultural conversation.”
Showtime’s noisiest launch of all time could be a series based on Halo, which Nevins called “the most popular and revered video game franchise ever,” with more than 77 million copies sold worldwide.
The series, which Showtime ordered in June, will be “a brilliant, expansive sci-fi show that has been sorely missing from the television landscape,” said Nevins, though neither Showtime exec wanted to say that it will be their own version of HBO’s massive hit Game of Thrones.
“This will be our Halo,” said Levine.
Also during his executive session, Nevins announced that Showtime will be airing two docuseries this fall based on Trump’s favorite Twitter rant topics: the relationship between presidents and the FBI, and outspoken NBA athletes like LeBron James.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.