It’s no secret that video streaming services have been pushing TV networks to re-examine how they bring their content to viewers and encouraging them to experiment with long-standing formats and formulas. For its part, NBC has turned crime drama series Aquarius into its guinea pig in the past, and now plans to do it again. The network has revealed that the Charles Manson-themed show starring David Duchovny will premiere this summer with a two-hour, commercial-free episode.
Interestingly, viewers will have just one opportunity to watch the season two premiere without commercials. While the show will later be available on online and digital platforms, anyone watching will have to expect to breaks for ads. Clearly, NBC wants to encourage fans to turn in for the initial telecast.
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The strategy is believed to be the first of its kind, as Variety points out; the unusual launch shows how networks are being forced to respond to consumers’ growing intolerance for commercials. Ad revenue has long been vital to networks, but the demand for ad-free content is potent. It has inspired streamers like Hulu and YouTube to create new subscription tiers, and even traditional networks like CBS have been toying with the idea of doing the same.
NBC’s latest Aquarius experiment comes after its first season became the network’s first series available online for binge-watching following its series premiere. So far, NBC has kept data under wraps, as TV by the Numbers reports, but execs freely admitted that it was using the show to gain insight into viewership behaviors, patterns, and engagement. Hopefully, the network will eventually decide to share with the class; we’re definitely curious about the findings.
Aquarius returns with stars David Duchovny, Grey Damon, Gethin Anthony, Emma Dumont, Claire Holt, Michael McManus, and Brian F. O’Byrne. The special premiere airs June 16 at 9/8 c on NBC.