Premium networks like HBO and Showtime have long offered free preview weekends to get cable subscribers hooked on their programming, but now they're going online to get their customers where they're spending most of their time. Showtime is now streaming the premiere of season three of terrorism thriller Homeland on YouTube, as is HBO for the season four premiere of its comedy Eastbound & Down, starring Danny McBride.
It's not the first time that the networks have offered premieres on YouTube: the very first episode of Homeland made headlines when it was published online ahead of its network premiere, and the season 2 premiere was released on YouTube as well. Various premieres for Dexter, Ray Donovan, and House of Lies have received similar treatment in the past. Additionally, just last week Showtime published the first episode of Masters of Sex, which dramatizes William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson's 1950s research of the human sexual response, onto YouTube. For HBO's part, the network released the premieres of Girls and Veep onto YouTube, HBO.com, and other streaming services last year. It's a promising trend for major networks to embrace YouTube, but we'll all have to keep dreaming of a web-only subscription to premium networks that's not tied to costly cable bundles — the companies have expressed little interest to date.