In a bid for Internet buzz, premium cable channels HBO and Showtime have released free premiere episodes online of their highly anticipated summer series, HBO's"The Newsroom"and Showtime's "Weeds" and "Episodes."
HBO on Monday began offering Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom," which premiered on television Sunday night and drew a respectable 2.7 million viewers. The pilot episode of the show, which takes a sneering look at modern media, will play on several new-media sites, including HBO.com, YouTube and TV.com.
The television start of "The Newsroom" ranks among HBO's highly watched premieres. HBO said the outing ranked third behind "Boardwalk Empire" (4.8 million viewers) and "Game of Thrones" (2.2 million viewers). "The Newsroom" surpassed the first-episode audience for its current cult hit "True Blood." (1.4 million viewers).
Networks increasingly are trying to ride the wave of Internet trending topics by allowing millions of Internet users -- not just paying customers -- to sample an episode for free. The hope is that newly minted fans will sign up for their channels. HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc., began the practice with such series as "Veep," "Girls" and "Flight of the Conchords."