TV Surf Report: HBO Leads The Way In Branding in Premium Cable Where The Audience (But No Advertisers) Knows To Expect Quality


Santa Monica, CA — Know Your Brand. Cable Television has an easier time staking its claim than Broadcast or Streaming: It’s Not TV. It’s HBO!

Premium Cable.

HBO is the gold standard in subscription-based Television, still riding high with Quality Series, Original Movies and Documentary Specials. You get what you pay for!

Game of Thrones. Veep. Big Little Lies. These series (drama, comedy, limited) continue to reinforce that Brand and make HBO a destination in Hollywood (and internationally) for Creatives. Westworld and Last Week With John Oliver make it relevant.  HBO is a major player in the Warner Bros. empire. No Advertisers, though! Yet, such a strong Brand. Interesting.

  • Signature SeriesGOT, Veep, Ballers, Real Time With Bill Maher, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Big Little Lies, True Detective
  • Twitter: 1.85 (strong) GOT has 6.74 million followers. People are engaged and talking about this series as compared to Westworld which has only 168k followers. Real Time has 124k, but John Oliver has 2.77m followers. Reese Witherspoon, however, has 2.04 million followers. She knows how to engage the audience.
  • Notable Development: Adaptation of Watchmen (the graphic novel not the film). Also, no less than five prequels to Game of Thrones! Mark Ruffalo stars in a limited series adaptation of Wally Lamb’s bestseller I Know This Much Is TrueFahrenheit 451 with Michael Shannon; Today Will Be Different adaptation starring Julia Roberts

Bloomberg Explores Life After Game of Thrones for HBO


Showtime has No Brand unless you count Pretty Good Shows That Aren’t That CoolSounding (with the Twin Peaks re-boot as a limited series being very much The Exception). Synergy works in Showtime’s favor, though. It’s the pay cable component of Viacom’s empire, and its sister companies are CBS and Paramount Television.

  • Signature Series: Twin Peaks, Shameless, Ray Donovan, Homeland, The Affair, Billions. Quality. But unlike HBO, these series do not have that water cooler quality to them (again with Twin Peaks as the exception).
  • Twitter: 273k (incredibly weak) Twin Peaks: The Return has a mere 74.7k followers while Homeland has 283k and Ray Donovan has 91.3k followers. Showtime has some work to do here.
  • Notable DevelopmentKing Killer Chronicles adaptation executive produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda; and likely, The Vampire Lestat adaptation (11 novels) from Anne Rice; Patrick Melrose adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch; Happy adaptation of the graphic novel with Chris Meloni attached to star; A sequel series to Lesbian drama The L Word; City on a Hill, a period Boston crime drama from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, starring Kevin Bacon.


Starz dubs itself Obsessable. That’s a good Branding place to start, and this channel is well on its way to deserving that Brand with international hits like Outlander, American Gods, Black Sails, and Power.

Add to that a strong mix of hit movies, a corporate partner in Lionsgate Studios, and Starz is creatively more interesting than Showtime right now (and a lot younger).

  • Signature SeriesOutlander, American Gods, Black Sails, Power
  • Twitter: 156k followers. Not bad. Outlander boasts 362k, and American Gods has 61.9k followers, but Power has 272k followers. Interesting. Starz needs to get more people talking about American Gods. Author Neil Gaiman has 2.66 million followers. Meanwhile, actor Sam Heughan (Outlander) has 391k followers. Very interesting.
  • Notable DevelopmentBlack Samurai adaptation starring Common and executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer; Ascendant, the TV continuation of the Veronica Roth film series; The Rook from novelist Stephanie Meyer (Twilight); Uber Producer Jerry Bruckheimer EPs P-Town, an heroine epidemic drama with a Lesbian heroine. Bruckheimer also EPs Family Crimes, a hot spec script from David Ayer (Suicide Squad);



N E X T   U P:

Branding In Basic Cable. Lets Play Monopoly!


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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