January 31, 2013

THE SKED: “The Americans” Starts Strong; “House of Cards” Will Be A Mystery

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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FX’s new series THE AMERICANS got off to a fast start last night, with a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo for its initial airing at 10PM, and 3.2M total viewers.  (Those numbers get bumped up to 2.0 and 4.7M when late-night re-airings are added.)  The 10PM numbers were comparable to the launches of American Horror Story and Sons of Anarchy, so Americans is in good company.  Obviously, next week will tell the tale as far as the number of viewers who return, but there was a least one good sign, according to FX:  despite a 98-minute length that ran well past the end of primetime, the 18-49 number slipped just a tiny 0.1 between the pilot’s first half-hour and the last, indicating a satisfied audience.

Tomorrow is an important day in the history of what we more and more loosely call “television,” because Netflix is going to release all 13 hours of its HOUSE OF CARDS series for subscriber streaming.  This is a giant bet by the one-time red envelope company, with a reported $100M being spent on 26 episodes ordered without even a pilot being produced, not to mention A-list talent involved like director David Fincher and stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  It’s a critical fork in the road for Netflix, but the company has announced that it will release no data on the show’s viewership.  This reflects the Netflix business model, which like HBO and Showtime is far more about “buzz” than the number of viewers for a specific piece of programming.  If people know about House of Cards and either keep or start a subscription, Netflix doesn’t really care who actually watches.  The key number, which probably won’t be announced for several months until Wall Street requires it, will be the company’s subscription rate.

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."