tv Bloombergs Studio 1.0 Bloomberg September 11, 2016 1:30pm-2:01pm EDT
you don't see that every day. introducing wifi pro, wifi that helps grow your business. comcast business. built for business. ♪ emily: he has backed some of tv's biggest hits. "24," "er," "arrested development." then, he joined showtime and has led the resurgence in original programming. with shows like "homeland," "the affair," and "billions." >> what we do has consequences. >> now, the executive has a chair at the top. joining me today on studio 1.0, showtime's new ceo, david nevins. david, thank you so much for joining us today.
great to have you. david: thank you for coming. emily: so, billions. what was it about this showed that made you think it could be a hit? david: it is a world that hasn't been explored so much on television. it touches on all of our feelings about wealth and class, which is a hard subject in america. so this is very much in the zeitgeist and it deals with all of our complicated issues about the super wealthy. emily: you launched homeland and the affair -- when it comes to spotting a hit, is it all art?
david: there is not a ton of science. first of all, it is some combination of who are you betting on? it is instincts about people, instincts about creators and the actors who will be able to grow and create a role. good writing is at the core of it all. it is a good script that gets a good actor which gets a good director which makes for a compelling show. and it has some sense for feeling where the culture is right now. what people will sit up and take notice with, which is ever-changing. emily: is it a gut thing? has there been times where people have said -- it will not take off -- david: we don't really do testing in any way. emily: really? that is kind of scary. you are taking a huge risk. david: it is 80 people, there is nothing scientific about it. i like to watch our pilots in different groups of people over and over. i learned that from ron howard. ron would always watch his movie with bunches of different people. and i remember the first time he showed it to me and i tried to
be polite and say it was great, he would not let me get away with that. he wanted to really know what i thought and where it lagged, where things were confusing. so you do this over time. you develop a feel. emily: you have recently taken over for matt blank, who was in this seat for many decades. not this very seat but figuratively. he had this job longer than any other executive in television. and now you are on the business side. david: this is the rare orderly transition in this business. it is carefully planned over the course of the last two years. matt has been the architect of it. he has been great about it. he is now the chairman and i came up through the creative side, then the business side was very motivating. to become ceo at this moment, it is a really exciting time to do it. we are now selling ourselves
over the internet. there is a whole new way, we now have a direct relationship with our customers. television has reached the top of the totem pole in terms of its place in the cultural hierarchy. emily: is this the golden age of tv? david: i think so. it is an overused term but how can you say it is not? television gets the highbrow conversation, the highbrow criticism and critiquing that you just couldn't do when it was simon and simon and matlock. emily: usc parodies of hbo, what distinguishes showtime from hbo or netflix? david: we are all doing very similar things. for better or for worse, the premium, high end area is where everybody wants to go. so what distinguishes a showtime show? i want it to be culturally relevant. homeland has things to say about
america's place in the 21st century world. even masters of sex has a lot to say about gender and complicated relationships with sexuality. so, cultural relevance, entertainment value, characters with complicated, adult psychology. emily: some would say that you have all of these hit shows but you haven't had your major, major hit. what is going to be your "game of thrones?" david: i don't think you ever plan for the big hit. we didn't know what homeland was going to be. we are delivering consistent shows that people want to watch.
i would love to have a game of thrones. emily: does it keep you up at night? david: no. no. we have a lot of shows. so, you know, we try to figure out how to make each one 10%bigger than it is right now. emily: how do you view something like hbo? are they your nemesis? david: no. there is fx, netflix, amazon, hulu launching shows now. there is amc and one million people are trying to get in the game. generally, what is good for hbo is good for showtime. emily: what is showtime's biggest threat? >> it is a complicated 21st century media world with a lot of people clamoring for attention and we have to stay at the top of the list and continue putting out shows that feel like
they have messages that will make people pay attention. even in the traditional universe, we are still only in 23,000,000-24,000,000 homes. almost three quarters of the homes in america don't have showtime. we have a lot of running room. it is a moment of great opportunity. emily: how disruptive has netflix been to your business? david: they have seemingly unlimited amounts of money, that is a challenge to compete with. they buy our programming. so they are a customer. they buy our programs internationally. emily: have you ever considered throwing all of the episodes out there at once? david: there is great value in having the conversation sustained over the course of a
couple months. so i think the world is going to come back to a little more measured. although different shows have different ways. when we put twin peaks out, we thought it would be fun to do it in a different way. that is something i will talk about with david lynch. there are all sorts of possibilities. but the idea of throwing it out, having a week of buzz or two weeks of buzz, i don't think that makes sense for us. emily: how many people are paying for showtime? david: i will tell you, it has grown every week since we have launched. well more than doubled since homeland and it has gone up again since then. emily: how many more seasons does homeland have left? david: well, it reboots itself every year.
it is a new story and a new place. it is changeability and it works really well. i don't feel like we are at -- i don't know, exactly. but i feel like, three. emily: three more seasons of homeland? david: it is really star and creator alex gonza, claire danes, they will make a decision when she is sick of doing the show or playing that character. when they are sick of writing that show. do you think the story of america's compilcated place in the 21st century won't be
relevant in 2015, 2019 and 2022? of course it will be relevant. it is a question of creativity, this is just a question of how long we keep going. emily: what has it been like working with david lynch? david: he is an incredibly efficient director. he is now more than halfway through. he is kind of a genius. watching him work, i have been down to the set couple of times. the actors, i'm not allowed to say who they are, but many of them have worked with him for their entire careers. so it is really watching a maestro. i am incredibly excited. i think it will be a work of -- dare i say, genius? i don't use that word often. emily: a work of genius? david: i should not on wood but i feel like it will be really special. emily: what about china? this is a question that netflix is being asked all the time. ♪
emily: there are more scripted tv shows than ever before. there are also more canceled tv shows than ever before. are we in a tv bubble? david: i don't really think so. a bubble implies that there will be a puncture and we will be down 25%. i definitely do not see that. it is possible to not succeed. microsoft, yahoo!, they went in and they went out.
they decided after a certain amount of investment, it is not for us. there will be other people and there will be shows that fail. that said, it is robust. the demand is there and the desire is there. we are in expansion mode and i don't feel like we have too much. if you ask a showtime subscriber, they wouldn't say we have too much. they would say, give me another show. emily: is it scary that amazon can make a hit original show? david: anyone can make a show. whether it is a hit or not, we don't know until we know how to people are watching. emily: like transparent. we don't know how many people are watching. david: it is a terrific show. i personally love transparent. so, it is scary and
democratizing. think it is good for the creative process and for the business. it keeps us on our toes. we have to compete harder and better and make this a creative home for creative people. would i like to keep out the competition? i don't really have that instinct. i don't look at the world that way. we will shut the door behind us and no one else can come in this club -- i don't think that is good for storytelling or creativity. for the consumer, it is not. emily: what about international expansion. i know you made a deal in canada. do you want to sell showtime streaming? in other countries? david: it has been a big push that we have been making, that i have been making. we have more shows that work in the uk and france, compared to some of our competition. we made a big push starting in canada. english speaking international
communities. then we did u.k., sky. germany, italy, we just did australia. continental europe. and the showtime brand is starting to mean something. so rather than selling our shows in a one-off way, billions is over here and dexter is over there -- we put them all together, same network and it makes a big difference. it is a factor of five and 10 times what were making. emily: what about the plans to sell the streaming service independently? david: we haven't done it yet. there is such interest in premium programming right now that we made a decision in the big territories to sell. but we will see what happens. emily: what about china? this is a question that netflix is being asked all the time. david: go figure, i think billions has a real potential in
china. there is interest in the subject matter. there are conversations going on and i'm hopeful that billions gets a real deal in china that will be potentially the biggest deal ever. in china. china is becoming a real market for us. as recently as when we were selling ray donovan, we sold it in there for pennies and now, there is a real real interest. it is the first major sale we have made in china. it is significant. emily: can you win the world without china? can netflix dominate without china?
david: here is how i think about china. china has always been a terrible market for american television. piracy is rampant. you know, the movie studios figured out how to do stuff in china five years ago. now they are making real money and i expect there to be a lot of growth there in the next five years. and i think we have spent a lot of time talking about china. emily: what about apple? what do you think is apple's future in television? ♪
emily: how did you get to hollywood? david: i just drove here. emily: in a volkswagen beetle? david: in an oldsmobile. my grandmother's oldsmobile. i came out soon after college. it was actually when i was in scotland. i found a bunch of hard-core film geeks who would have given their right arm to move to hollywood and i realized, i have no immigration problems. i'm american and has an american passport. i can just drive there. and i did. i wanted to be in the movie business. it worked out well. television, in the turn between the 1980's-1990's, that was not the golden age of television. now, there is no place i would rather be. emily: you worked your way up. you have worked with ron howard,
you worked at fox, i am curious about network television in particular. since parenthood ended, and i know you were behind parenthood and friday night lights, i don't watch a single show on network television, except for the bachelor. which i am embarrassed to admit. david: don't be embarrassed. i love reality television. emily: do you watch the bachelor? david: i have. i sort of fell out a few years ago. emily: what are your favorite reality tv shows? david: master chef, project runway, i was watching real housewives for a while. but then it made me feel bad about humanity. so i stopped. emily: it takes a real man to admit watching real housewives. david: i'm very secure. emily: thank you. [laughter] what is wrong with network television? david: network television still gets big audiences. there are -- you can now, what is harder to hide five or seven
years ago, before people had really developed with pay cable and when there was a volume of premium shows, you can now satisfy yourself living over here with mad men and homeland and billions and silicon valley. you don't have to leave that neighborhood. but there are a lot of people who are very satisfied with the neighborhood that is the big bang theory, chicago fire, blackish -- interesting stuff. the networks are starting to innovate more. out of necessity. emily: should the cable companies be worried?
david: they are under pressure to innovate. they are under pressure to change the way people -- the way they make things available. and the way people are able to watch them. and serving broadband, that is where the growth is coming from. emily: what about espn? david: espn is suffering right now, the law of big numbers. they are still an incredibly healthy cash machine and they are trying to recalibrate their growth. emily: what about apple? what do you think is apple's future in television? david: if you had asked me a year ago or nine months ago, i would have thought that they would be having tried to figure out their own version of a bundle. by now. a lot of people are rooting for them. emily: what happened? why didn't it work out?
david: i think it is challenging to put the pieces together with the content owners. there were a lot of conversations going on about how and when. i can't comment on them. but apple is an incredibly innovative company and they make products that people want. there is enormous potential to crack the television world open. emily: in tv, could they end up being just a set top box? david: i think that is possible. they could also be a tv or a box next to the tv, there are a lot of different ways. emily: have you heard about -- david: the fight over the living room has not been decided yet. i don't think that has been decided yet. tv is a huge part of who controls the living room. who controls the electronics in the house? emily: what about the
entertainment industry in general? where is it in five years? what are we watching? david: you will continue to see the blurring between movies and television. you will see television shows, stuff produced primarily for television that will play in theaters. occasionally, and out of home collective experience. i'm already feeling interest and people are coming to us with this. i guarantee when twin peaks is out, people will want to put that in theaters. so i see those lines blurring. but fundamentally, the movement is for bigger screens in your home. and that has been television's greatest strength. so the desire for great complicated storytelling, the narrative ability to process constipated narratives, it is only growing exponentially. shows a getting more complicated
and more sophisticated. it rewards good writing and good acting. i expect that to only increase in the next five years. emily: david nevins, ceo of the showtime network. thank you so much. david: thank you. emily: and for admitting that you watch the bachelor. david: it was never my favorite. emily: [laughter] ♪ . .