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September 2, 2015

HBO to air The Wire On-Demand first... again

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Nov 27th 2007 11:29AM

The Wire
Same as they did for season four, new episodes for the fifth season of The Wire will be added to the HBO On-Demand playlist one week before they air. The ten episode final season premieres on Sunday, January 6. However, the premiere will be available for preview screenings on Monday, December 31. The same trend will continue throughout the season with new episodes airing on Sundays and the next episode debuting On-Demand the next day. This is pretty much my favorite show ever, so I'm thrilled about this. To be honest though, I never really understood this practice...

As it is, The Wire is known for garnering critical acclaim as well as complete failure in matching that acclaim with respectable viewership. It always does just so-so in the ratings. If anything, we should be thankful that we're getting a proper final season to wrap it all up. HBO could have called it quits after season four. After all, they had no issues with canning the similarly ratings deprived Deadwood after only three seasons.

With ratings low, one would assume that only the die-hards like myself are the ones tuning in. Right? Sure, there's probably some leftovers from people that stick around from a big film or another original series that may air before an episode, but for the most part if ratings are low, it's probably only the people that really care about the show who are watching.

The obvious question? Doesn't putting the episode up On-Demand a week early kill ratings even more? If one has the option of watching a new installment of The Wire six days before it broadcasts, where's the incentive to tune in on Sunday night? I know I won't. I'll probably watch it twice during the week and since I'm reviewing it this year, I'll have my blog posts done a few days in advance. If anything, I would think it'd be smarter to put two or three scenes up ahead of time. That way, people will still watch on Sunday.

I know that DVR and On-Demand viewership is starting to play a bigger role in whether or not a show gets renewed, and obviously that won't play a role here, but still. It's the final ten episodes and the buzz on this season is huge. You'd think HBO would want to go out with a bang and go for the highest possible ratings. Who knows. Maybe it still will.

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I can only echo what anyone who has taken the time to watch the Wire knows. This HBO series is art, not just television entertainment. I believe that these five seasons of The Wire, when taken as "a body of work" will be considered worthy of academic study and appreciation. As with any classic work in any medium, it usually take years before the masses realize how good it actually was. Dvd sales, rentals, Torrent rips, word of mouth and internet chatter will eventually spread the "gospel" according to Bunk,McNulty, Omar and Bubbles to the rest of the world. In the meantime lets savour this final season and be thankful that David Simon's Magnum Opus was able to be made in the first place.

January 06 2008 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HBO goes by subscribers more then ratings. With DVR and OnDemand it's a new age of television. When rumors where HBO wasn't going to bring back The Wire. HBO got flooded with emails and letters from diehard The Wire fans. Blogs and fan sites where also getting flooded. That's what brought back The Wire. A writer on tv.com wrote that sometimes that's what network or cable channels do to see actually how popular the show is. Plus, season dvd sales are great. They where 3rd in sales for HBO, behind The Sopranos and Curb last winter when I bought Season 2 and 3.
I'm ecstatic about the new and final season so if Time Warner wants to show me it a week earlier I'll take it!
The tv critics are saying it's the best season and that's from some that already called it last season the best show ever!

December 29 2007 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does this mean for us HBO-deprived citizens there'll be torrents way before the show actually airs? I can only hope. Not that I'd do that.. no, I mean I'm signing up for HBO now...

November 28 2007 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

THE WIRE season 4 comes out on DVD next Tuesday. I don't think this format hurts the show, it is the same format used last year. What hurts the show is when the entire season is leaked (i.e. last year) online prior to broadcast. This is the only show that is truly worth the $60 price tag HBO gives its DVDs.

It's all in the game, yo.


November 27 2007 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"the wire is meant to be watched in a 12-hour single sitting."

That is true. A week's wait for another hour is too much! The show really works better when you watch the episodes quickly (like an episode a day). I wonder if they would give out screeners this time around...I doubt it, after last year's fiasco.

November 27 2007 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Any Wire news is good news. The fact that this show exists in a TV world dominated by American Idol and the Hills is a wonder. I cannot wait.

November 27 2007 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Howard

HBO just needs subscribers. If everyone subscribes, then they don't need to worry about whether anyone actually watches the show or not. They musty have decided that having the show on in whatever time slot doesn't significantly impact other shows on around it enough to create enough buzz to bring in new subscribers. I'll occasionally leave the TV on a regular channel after what I wanted to watch was over, but I never really do that on HBO.

November 27 2007 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To elaborate on what Jason said, HBO considers On Demand viewers the same as actual viewers. As well they should. The only reason networks don't do the same is because they have to justify their numbers to advertisers. Since the only numbers HBO has to justify to its stockholders are subscription rates, the ratings are used completely internally to analyze which programs appear to have the most support.

In that respect, it seems that it would only make sense to count On Demand viewings as part of the overall ratings. After all, if someone watches something on television, then watches it twice On Demand, that show is definitely one that keeps them subscribing!

Alex... As far as Season 4 goes, HBO's schedule is viewable on their site, but I know for a fact that it will be On Demand in December, just like they've been doing with all the previous seasons.

November 27 2007 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex Rainert

Does anyone know if they're going to show Season 4 on HBO leading up to it? I know the DVDs come out next week.

November 27 2007 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alex Rainert's comment

HBO+E and W have been showing them pretty much every night at 11pm est. HBO.com you can find when there showing them or on tv.com.

December 29 2007 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, deadwood did really well for an HBO show, it was canceled because it was so expensive to produce and hbo hadn't been receiving the bulk of the dvd sales revenue for previous seasons thanks to a poor deal with the production company.

The Wire, on the other hand, is likely going to be the gift that keeps on giving for the network, since the show will certainly go down in history as one of, if not the best show ever made, and people will continue to buy the dvd sets long after it goes off the air.

If hbo had wanted to cancel the wire, they would have done it at the end of the third season, when the story had come to a logical close. But David Simon pitched them the fourth and a little bit of the fifth season, and they loved it so much they renewed it for the fourth year. With such stellar reviews for that year, plus an ending that led directly into the next season, it was inevitable that the wire would be renewed almost immediately, and it was less than halfway into the fourth season.

November 27 2007 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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