Showtime to Program Original Episodes Opposite Super Bowl

Showtime has reversed course and will air original episodes of its series “Shameless,” “House of Lies” and “Episodes” next Sunday opposite Fox’s coverage of the Super Bowl.

The premium cable network had planned to air encores of its Sunday skeins against the big game, which is expected to draw well over 100 million viewers, but saw an opening when HBO opted to take the night off. Other networks, including ABC and CBS, had already cleared their schedule of any scripted originals on that night.

Showtime also has been pleased with the performance of its Sunday shows, and doesn’t want viewers to get out of the weekly rhythm. It also notes that roughly 70% of the network’s subscribers opt to watch Showtime series on a time-shifted basis — a number that could be even higher on Feb. 2.

Last week, despite facing a football conference championship that drew more than 57 million on Fox, Showtime’s “Shameless” averaged 1.604 million viewers — up 17% from the comparable night one year earlier. That put it close behind HBO’s “True Detective” in the same hour (1.674 million).

According to Showtime, “Shameless” is averaging 5.4 million weekly viewers across platforms. “House of Lies” is averaging 3 million, and “Episodes” about 2 million.

Earlier this week, HBO confirmed its plans to premiere this week’s episodes of “Girls” and “Looking” on Saturday night rather than put their first airings on Sunday opposite the Super Bowl. Those episodes will then air in the show’s regular Sunday timeslot the next night.

Drama “True Detective” is airing a repeat this Sunday and will resume its run Feb. 9.

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