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