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HBO, Showtime Offer Season Premieres of ‘Newsroom,’ ‘Weeds’ Free on Internet

27 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

In a twist, premium pay-TV channels HBO and Showtime have put season premieres of coveted serials “The Newsroom” and “Weeds” on the Internet for free without authentication or registration.

“Newsroom,” Oscar-winning screen writer Aaron Sorkin’s (The Social Network) critical look at the state of TV journalism, debuted June 24 on HBO generating 2.1 million viewers for its premier episode.

HBO, which is owned by Time Warner, beginning June 25 put the entire episode of “Newsroom” on YouTube, DailyMotion.com, HBO.com, TV.com, iTunes and other video-on-demand platforms. Noteworthy is that HBO offered the premier on third-party platforms without requiring registration or viewer authentication.

HBO, which has made available movies and previous seasons of episodic programming on its TV Everywhere platform, HBO Go, and website to subscribers, is apparently using social media and the Internet to get the word out about “Newsroom.” More than 100,000 people have thus far watched the season premiere on YouTube.

See episode 1 of “Newsroom” here.

Meanwhile, CBS-owned Showtime is offering the premiere of the final season of “Weeds,” starring Mary-Louise Parker as a soccer-mom-turned-pot dealer, on its Facebook page — with a catch. Viewers visiting Showtime's Facebook page have to watch a preview of the new Matt LeBlanc comedy, “Episodes” in order to view “Weeds.”

Showtime doesn’t make it easy. Facebook viewers must first “like” the page and then watch 10 minutes of “Episodes” to unlock the entire season premiere of “Weeds.” The challenge irritated more than a few users.

“I was forced to watch a show I did not want to see just so I could watch ‘Weeds’,” one Facebook viewer wrote.

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