The television landscape has seen radical changes over the last few years. The days of network television being a source of water cooler talks are getting fewer and fewer. New competitors in the programming market have chipped away at the once dominant share that network television held. Look, for example, at the rise in popularity in cable television programming. Once an afterthought and home of countless hours of Full House reruns, both basic cable channel and shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad as well as premium cable services like HBO’s Game of Thrones dominate the populations’ television discussions.
The newest era of contenders in the television game comes from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu. Look at the rise in popularity of programs like Orange is the New Black or House of Cards on Netflix as well as Transparent on Amazon Prime. There is money to be made and execs know it.
And what’s en vogue right now? Comic book properties. Not only is there a record number of comic book based shows on television right now (Flash, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Walking Dead, etc.), but there are new properties coming down the pike. Netflix for example, has partnered up with Marvel to bring the likes of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and The Defenders to the streaming screens. Now Sony Pictures Television is hoping to tap into this interest in comic properties by releasing their own show. Enter: Powers.
Powers is based off the Marvel/Icon comic of the same name, and created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, the comic is about two homicide detectives and the cases they solve in a world filled with superhumans. The show will follow the same concept.
Along with the comic’s creators acting as executive producers, the show will be overseen by Charlie Huston (writer of Moon Knight and Wolverine: The Best There Is) and Remi Aubuchon (Falling Skies, 24). The show will star Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium) as Det. Christian Walker and Susan Heyward (The Following) as Det. Deena Pilgrim. Other notable actors set to appear on the show are Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica, The Killing) as Retro Girl and Eddie Izzard (Velvet Goldmine, Hannibal) as Wolfe. The first season consists of ten episodes.
Sony is banking heavily on the show, hoping that by introducing the show to video gamers, it will translate into ratings. Let’s be honest, while not all video gamers are comic book readers, a lot of comic book readers are video game players. It’s this audience that Sony is attempting to court. That’s why Sony has a rather bold plan to get viewers to tune in.
Starting March 10, PlayStation Network users will be able to watch the first episode for free. For those without access to the PlayStation Network, the first episode will also be available through YouTube and Crackle. Also on that day, viewers will be able to watch 2 more episodes. New episodes will then debut every Tuesday until all 10 episodes are released. Sony is so sure you’ll support the show that they will allow PlayStation Plus subscribers to watch the complete first season as a part of their membership.
PlayStation Plus is the premium online membership that allows subscribers access to many privileges like free games every month, automatic game updates, and special deals and discounts. At CES this past January, Sony announced that over 18 million units of the PlayStation 4 have been sold worldwide. Of those, over half of the users are also PlayStation Plus subscribers. Sony is hoping that those nine million plus users will tune in.
The question is, will the audience tune in? While there is an interest in shows based on the properties of the Big two publishers, Marvel and DC, is there interest in a relatively unknown indie property? Another question is: with so many other online services (like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.), will the customers stand for one more source for programming in an already cluttered field?
Is there really a market for original programs, at least where the video game market is concerned? Microsoft was originally planning on joining the original programming space but back in July 2014, they shuttered the doors of their original programming division. While plans were made to have programming based on their Fables and Gears of War franchises (as well as others), the only original program that survived was Halo: Nightfall. Will Sony succeed where Microsoft failed? So far, Sony has not announced any other shows in development.
Check out Powers on the PlayStation Network on March 10.
Images: Sony Pictures Television, Image Comics, Marvel Icon