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Summer experiment ‘Under the Dome’ paying off for CBS, who’s bringing it back
CBS’ thriller “Under the Dome” will be back next summer with 13 more episodes — the first of which will be penned by Stephen King himself.
King’s bestselling novel is the basis for the series, which debuted earlier this summer in an unusual move by network television to launch a big-ticket project in what’s traditionally seen as the slow season.
The move paid off. CBS CEO Les Moonves said the show is a ratings success, especially when DVR playback, video-on-demand and online streaming are factored in. Some 13.7 million people watched the June 24 premiere live, but that number swelled to 20 million when those other modes of viewing were factored in. (That 20 million figure doesn’t include those who watched on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video, which says “Under the Dome” has been watched by more customers than any other series on the service.)
“The numbers can be as big [as what historically has been deemed 'a hit'], they’re just coming from different places,” Moonves said, adding that CBS will be doing more of this “limited-series” model. This fall, for example, the net will debut its drama “Hostages,” which has 15 episodes as opposed to a typical 22- to 24-episode full-season order.
Airing Monday nights, “Under the Dome” tells the story of a small town that’s suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by a giant transparent dome. Those trapped inside have to deal with surviving post-apocalyptic conditions while trying to figure out what exactly this fishbowl cage is, where it came from, and if and when it will go away.
The show stars “Breaking Bad’s” Dean Norris as a conniving councilman, as well as DePaul grad Alexander Koch — in his first major TV role — plays his troubled son.
Cable television long ago started making inroads against broadcast nets by rolling out original programming in the summer months, when traditional TV went into rerun mode. Broadcast networks responded by bolstering reality TV programming in the summer. It’s a strategy that had limited success, but that success has steadily eroded.
“We decided to take a page out of the cable nets’ playbook,” said David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS. You can expect CBS will follow that script in the future, and other broadcast nets will do the same. “When it comes to summer programming, ‘Under the Dome’ is shaping up to be a game-changer.”