February Was For the Nerds

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Welcome to the February edition of highlights in cable entertainment and programming news. Here you will find insider information on TV ratings, show renewals, new networks and shows, unique programmer news, show-runner updates and more! Also, for previews of new cable seasons and sneak peeks for shows, don’t forget to check out NCTA’s TV Trailer Page.

History Channel Planning World Wars Honorary TV Event

History Channel

History Channel and H2 announced plans to air a six-part special event series, entitled World Wars, later in 2014. “2014 is the 100 year anniversary of WWI, and for History and H2 this is an incredible honor and privilege to tell one of the greatest stories of all time in a very different way,“ said Dirk Hoogstra, EVP History Channel & H2. The episodes will have similar cinematic storytelling to the Emmy Award-winning and phenomenal successes, The Men Who Built America and America: The Story of Us. World Wars will be told through the eyes of the leaders during those three decades of war between 1914 and 1945, including men like Roosevelt, Hitler, Patton, Mussolini, Churchill, Tojo, DeGaulle and MacArthur.

Zombies (Still) Rule!

AMC Network

AMC’s The Walking Dead took a winter hiatus but that didn’t scare away any fans, as the mid-season four premiere returned with 15.8 million viewers. It was the number one show that night among adults 18-49, outperforming even the Sochi Winter Olympics. After factoring in time-shifted playback of the episode, the audience was approximately 20 million viewers. AMC’s after show, Talking Dead, experienced its highest premiere in series history with 5.9 million viewers. The Walking Dead’s growing audience shows another impact of binge viewership, on-demand series catch-up and word of mouth.

HBO Finds Utopia with Director David Fincher

HBO

David Fincher is one of the top Hollywood A-listers who’ve made the move to the small screen. Most recently working together for the film adaptation of the best-selling novel Gone Girl, David Fincher and author Gillian Flynn are reuniting again on new series Utopia for HBO, with Fincher as director and Flynn providing the screenplay. Utopia will be an eerie futuristic story about a group of die-hard fans of an underground graphic novel living in their own pop-culture thriller. The series will bring together the dark and psychological style of David Fincher direction with the twisted and addictive writing style of Gillian Flynn. Check out a trailer from the UK version of Utopia to get a feel for this upcoming show.

Fox Networks Group Explores Simulcasting & The Universe

Fox, Nat Geo, FX, FXX Networks

Fox Networks Group is producing its first cross-network simulcast of the new science-based series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. This means that episodes will run simultaneously across Fox networks including Nat Geo, FX, FXX, Fox Sports and others worldwide, reaching an overall footprint of more than half a billion homes. So if you miss one of these episodes, you have no one to blame but yourself! This series comes over 30 years after the debut of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Carl Sagan’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original. Seth MacFarlane joins Sagan’s original creative team to produce this 13-episode television event, telling the story of the laws of nature, space and time.

Discovery’s Science Channel Launches Sci 2 Digital Video Spinoff

Science Channel

Discovery Communications-owned Science Channel launched an online-only video brand, Sci2, consisting of curated YouTube clips and original content. As EVP Science Channel Debbie Myers said, “Content is king, interest in science is exploding, and we have the benefit of a brand people love and trust.” Sci2 is another great example of a cable network pushing the limits when it comes to content. Meant to complement the cable network and ScienceChannel.com and expand the audience, Sci2 will be an eccentric and a little edgier online platform. Plans to expand Sci2 to smartphones, tablet and smart TVs are already in the works.

Time to Start Planning for the Next Global Quadrennial Sports Event

ESPN

Now that the Olympics are over, the world can turn its focus to the next global sporting TV event of the year: the FIFA World Cup. And after the time difference we experienced with Sochi, the geographic location of Brazil is ideal for U.S. live viewing! ESPN just announced their programming schedule and other plans for telecasts during the month-long soccer tournament. ESPN will carry 43 of the 64 matches, 11 will be on ESPN2 and the remaining 10 air on ABC, with all matches available live on the WatchESPN and WatchABC apps. ESPN will also produce specials like World Cup Tonight and FC World Cup Encore, with daily news, highlights and analysis. Start planning ahead with the full television schedule online.