HBO’s Family Tree hasn’t started with very strong viewing roots. The 10:30 PM debut Sunday of the new comedy pulled in 794,000 viewers. That is a big drop off from the 1.2 million who watched its lead-in Veep and down from the 872,000 who tuned in for the debut of Girls in the same slot on April 15, 2012. Over two plays, Family Tree had about 975,000 viewers, down from the 1.1 million Girls had. Bridesmaids’ Chris O’Dowd stars in the mockumentary series co-created by Christopher Guest as a recently single and unemployed thirtysomething who seeks to discover himself by investigating his wacky extended family. The series is set to premiere on BBC2 in the UK this month. Also on HBO, Game Of Thrones’ four-week record viewership streak came to an end Sunday, with the flagship show drawing 4.8 million viewers for its 9 PM broadcast. It’s still a strong number but down from the 5.3 million who watched the 9 PM episode May 5. Over two plays for the night, Thrones had 6 million viewers, down from last week’s 6.8 million. Veep, meanwhile, was even with its Season 2 debut April 14. The Julia Louis-Dreyfus-starring political satire drew 1.5 million viewers over two plays Sunday.
Cable Ratings: HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ Hits Another High, ‘Mad Men’ Up Slightly, ‘Jerseylicious’ Finale Up
Jon Snow and Ygritte are climbing the wall and they are picking up more viewers on Game Of Thrones. The 9 PM broadcast of the HBO fantasy drama Sunday pulled in 5.5 million viewers. With the Wildlings at the base of the wall that protects the Seven Kingdoms, that’s a new series high for Thrones for a fourth week in a row in its third season. The series drew 5.3 million viewers the week before. The show’s viewership across two plays on Sunday also hit a new gross audience nightly high with 6.8 million viewers.
Elsewhere in the cable universe, AMC’s Mad Men didn’t break any records this week but it was up a bit over its April 28 episode. The period drama had 2.4 million viewers on Sunday, with 1.103 million in the adults 18-49 demo. That’s a 3% gain in viewers and 6% in the demo compared with the week before. Mad Men returned for its sixth season April 7 with its second-most-watched episode ever with 3.4 million viewers.
The first three months of 2013 were mixed for the entertainment giant. Time Warner says this morning that it generated net income of $720M, +23.9% vs last year’s Q1, on revenues of $6.93B, -0.6%. That missed the consensus analyst forecast of $7.12B. But adjusted earnings at 82 cents a share were well ahead of predictions for 74 cents. At the cable networks, including HBO, revenues were up 3% to $3.7B with operating income +11% to $1.3B. The company says that a 1% decline in ad sales ($12M) and 4% drop in content revenues ($11M) took some of the edge off of subscription revenues which were +5% ($115M). Ad growth at Turner‘s U.S. entertainment networks “was more than offset by declines at its news networks, due to lower demand” as well as the closing of channels in India and Turkey last year. Film and TV entertainment saw operating income grow 23% to $263M even though revenues fell 4% to $2.7B. Time Warner attributes the decline to “lower theatrical performance and a decline in television licensing revenues” — adding that it was offset by higher home video sales for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Argo. Meanwhile the magazine publishing unit, which the company plans to spin off, generated a $9M operating loss (vs last year’s $5M loss) on revenues of $737M, -5%.
UPDATE: HBO Says ‘Game of Thrones’ Creator George R. R. Martin To Make Cameo In Season 4 – Which Doesn’t Exist Yet
UPDATE, 11:11 AM: Talk about putting the cart before the throne. Turns out Game Of Thrones executive producer David Benioff misspoke when he said Tuesday that creator George R.R. Martin would make a cameo in Season 3 of the hit HBO series. The network says filming is completed for the season, which debuts March 31, and Martin isn’t in it. What Benioff meant to say, the network confirmed to me today, was that plans are in place for the author of the books on which the series is based to appear in a Season 4. Sounds like things must be pretty far along on getting a fourth season in gear if they are working out such small details. Of course, that assumes HBO is picking up the hit series for another cycle, something it has not done yet — though if you were a gambling person, I’d say you wouldn’t lose if you bet your kingdom on it.
PREVIOUSLY, TUESDAY PM: Game Of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin will be making an onscreen appearance in the upcoming season of HBO’s flagship series, executive producer David Benioff revealed tonight. “You will see him”, he told Deadline, though he would not say what role Martin would play. Season 3 of the hit epic fantasy drama premieres March 31. Benioff was appearing with the author of the sprawling book series and co-executive producer of the TV show Tuesday at the “Evening With Game Of Thrones”, put on by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. As fans of the show know, Martin, who recently inked a two-year overall deal with the pay cable network to develop new projects, actually had a cameo in the Game Of Thrones pilot. “90% of the pilot was re-shot and George’s cameo ended up on the cutting room floor”, admitted Weiss to the sold out crowd. In a spoiler-free event, Martin did let one plot twist or twists slip out: “There’ll be a few people on the throne before it’s over”, he said when asked who would end up victorious as king on the series. Benioff and fellow exec producer D.B. Weiss joked that “George has told us.” With HBO execs in the audience, Benioff also said that no order for Season 4 has been made. The crowd groaned in obvious displeasure.
A couple of thoughts on TV from a feature guy. The Kevin Williamson-created Fox series The Following might be the most aggravating but addictive series to come down the pike in some time. Kevin Bacon plays an FBI agent trying to capture a serial killer (James Purefoy) who has accumulated a Manson Family-like group of creepy disciples all too eager to commit unimaginably horrible acts on the killer’s behalf. As if that in itself wasn’t unlikely enough, the killer met all of his acolytes when they visited him in prison. Hasn’t anybody in the FBI thought of checking the visitor list from his days behind bars, rather than waiting and reacting to the latest horror? Can the FBI really be that dumb? That said, I cannot think of a time when I’ve been hooked on so many series, between The Following, Justified, The Walking Dead, House Of Cards, The Americans, Vikings and Blue Bloods, and I just now received the first four episodes of the new season of Game Of Thrones, and have new seasons of Homeland, Sons Of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire to look forward to. I remember Tony Gilroy telling Deadline in an interview that mid-range dramas like his superb Michael Clayton are becoming extinct in features, and are instead being made as series for basic and pay cable networks by feature guys. As a result, TV has never been stronger while film leaves room for improvement in this department.
Another look at Season 3 – A Storm Of Swords – examines the “beast in every man”. The HBO series returns March 31st:
Here are glimpses of the coming battles between the kings of Westoros and the conflicts in the East. New cast members include Clive Russell (Brynden Tully), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Mackenzie Crook (Orell), Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon) Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen Reed), Ellie Kendrick (Meera Reed), Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion) Paul …
Here’s a recap of Season 2 with commentary pointing to Season 3 for HBO’s Game Of Thrones. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences also has scheduled An Evening With Game Of Thrones on Tuesday, March 19th at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The Emmys.tv website says the event …
Here’s a trailer for Season 3 of HBO’s Game Of Thrones. Author George R.R. Martin continues as co-executive producer and has a deal to develop and produce new series for the pay cable network.