And if viewers don't catch the premiere of the program, it won't be because the network didn't try to make it available. "Brotherhood" made its debut Sunday, has been re-aired on Showtime every night this week and will continue to do so leading up to next Sunday's second episode. It also aired two weeks early on Showtime on Demand.
Showtime has struggled to create the kind of buzz HBO has garnered with shows like "Entourage," "Sopranos" and "Deadwood." Showtime's 13.8 million subscribers, as of December 2005, trail HBO's by half, according to Kagan Research.
"Brotherhood" has potential to be the silver bullet according to many critics -- the Seattle Post-Intelligencer called it "a masterpiece" and the Los Angeles Times raved it "seems fresh nearly all the time." The trick, Showtime clearly feels, is increasing sampling. In a release, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves touted the arrangement as an example of corporate synergy. "This is just one example of how content divisions in our company can work together to complement and support each other's efforts," he stated.
The show has been edited for broadcast TV and cut from 54 minutes to 48 minutes. It will air with limited commercials -- including a few 10-second spots promoting the premium cable channel.
Showtime spokesman Stu Zakin said the re-airing is -- as of right now -- a one-time deal and whether it happens with the second episode is "CBS's call. ... We're just happy about getting a broader audience than we've had in 30 years."