Los Angeles – Netflix’s decision not to release viewership numbers for its original series has been a point of complaint for their competitors and the press, and two of HBO’s top executives agreed the move is “curious,” they said in a session at the TCA press tour on Thursday.
“We’ve always released our ratings and quite frankly it’s a fair metric. That being said, Girls is no less or more a hit to us at 5 million viewers than Boardwalk Empire is to us at 8 million viewers,” said HBO CEO Richard Plepler. “The rationale appears to be that they’re not in the advertising business. But all three of the premium networks release their ratings. Curious is exactly the right word, but it’s not our business, it’s their business.”
Plepler also said HBO would not bid on the syndication rights to Netflix’s House of Cards, despite its premium pedigree. “I think it’s been branded on Netflix and that’s where it will stay.”
Highlights from the rest of HBO’s executive session included:
• Plepler reiterated that the network is not looking at unbundling HBO Go from the cable package – yet – but it is looking at adding extra material like cut footage to the app to increase the value for subscribers.
• President of HBO Programming Michael Lombardo said, “the odds are excellent” that The Newsroom will be renewed for a third season and “we’re very happy with the show.” The main issue is finding time in creator Aaron Sorkin’s schedule. “I would be shocked if you went hearing an announcement soon,” he said.
• Producers will likely be re-casting James Gandolfini’s part in the pilot of Criminal Justice and re-shooting the portions he appeared in before his death last month. “I can’t imagine us airing the pilot with James in it,” Lombardo said. “We’re having conversations with [writer] Steve [Zailian] about how to proceed. Jim’s passing took the wind at our sails quite a bit at HBO. It’s hard to think about having to replace him.”
• Despite the Game of Thrones books giving a finite period to the story, Lombardo said there is no timeline for the series. “We're taking it as far as I’m concerned they can go on as long as there are stories to tell...we haven't gotten anywhere near that conversation with [creators] David [Benihoff] and Dan [Weiss].”
• The final season of Treme will premiere Sunday, Dec. 1 after Boardwalk Empire.
• HBO has just started discussions about the fate of comedy Family Tree. “It’s a co-production with the BBC, they’re interested in doing another season,” Lombardo said. “It didn’t find as robust an audience as we hoped but very proud of it.”
• On the cancellation of Enlightened after two seasons. “The story of Amy Jellicoe had come to a natural resting place so we thought it was best to end it where we did,” Lombardo said. “It wasn’t a financial decision at all.”
• Sister network Cinemax also announced Thursday it has orderd 10 episodes of new series The Knick about Knickerbocker Hospital in New York in 1900. Steven Soderbergh will direct the series starring Clive Owen, which will premiere in 2014.