December 13, 2011

THE SKED: “Luck” Doesn’t Have Much

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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HBO, wanting to give its high-profile David Milch/Michael Mann/Dustin Hoffman/Nick Nolte horseracing drama LUCK the best possible promotional platform, premiered the pilot as a “special preview” following what turned out to be the shocking season finale of BOARDWALK EMPIRE.  The first part of the plan worked:  Boardwalk scored a terrific (by its standards) 1.3 rating in 18-49s and 3 million total viewers, a season high.  But the audience fled at the prospect of Luck:  the 18-49 number plummeted 70% to a 0.4, and the total audience figure wasn’t much better, down to about 1.1 million viewers.

This is pay-cable, where the standards are different:  Luck‘s 0.4 isn’t all that much lower than the 0.5 Homeland did on Showtime, where that spectacularly good show is considered a big hit, even though it loses almost half of its Dexter lead-in.  Reviews, awards, and general “buzz” are critical for these networks.  (Put another way:  they don’t care if subscribers actually watch the shows, as long as they feel like they should be watching.)  Still, Luck is a very expensive show to produce, and it won’t have a lead-in again like the one Boardwalk Empire gave it on Sunday night.  In the parlance of the show:  if you’re putting down a future bet on the long-time viability of Luck, make sure you’re getting long odds.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."