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Interview transcript: Matthew Blank

Marketplace Staff Jul 16, 2008


Kai Ryssdal: Matt Blank, good to have you with us.

Matthew Blank: It’s nice to be here, thanks.

Ryssdal: Define success for me.

Blank: Oh boy, that’s hard. I think everybody’s got a different view of it. I mean, In the grander terms I think it’s what your life turns out to be in terms of your family, friends and those most important to you. From a business standpoint, it’s a lot easier to define today for Showtime than it was if we were doing this a couple of years ago.

Ryssdal: Well that’s actually a good point because the landscapes has changed now for this network that you run.

Blank: It really has, so this would be a great time to ask me that question. I think we define success in any number of ways starting with the product we produce, because that’s probably the most important thing. And, you know, we have been very fortunate in a couple of years to put things on the air that have been so widely embraced by our various publics…consumers, those very important distributors: cable operators, satellite operators, phone companies that actually distribute our service to consumers, and certainly in the broader media in terms of the response to our program. And then at the end of the day, we are a corporation that is part of a public corporation. So the bottom line is important and the bottom line has been as successful as the program has been.

Ryssdal: So what the heck happened? I mean, you guys have been around for a while, did all of this just fall in your lap?

Blank: It’s true, I think, you know I like to say that we’ve had sort of a perfect storm of events in the past couple of years…starting with the programming. But the marketing has been terrific at the same time. I think that the competitive environment was an environment that has been receptive for the last couple of years to the things that we are doing right now. And you know, sometimes it just all fires on all cylinders and you don’t try to always figure out why and you just kind of hope you can keep it going.

Ryssdal: Sort of helps that a certain show about a certain Mafia family went out of business, right?

Blank: Yeah, that didn’t hurt. But you know, honestly, one…you’re right. Two…whenever we are asked about that, I’ve always believed that we can’t affect whatever happens at that other network. We can only affect what happens at Showtime. And if we are doing a great job, we think we’ll always prevail regardless of what’s happening in the environment.

Ryssdal: What’s your role in the creative process around here?

Blank: People would say nothing, in our company…

Ryssdal: To your face? (laughter)

Blank: No, I mean, the nice thing is we have a very lean organization. You know, a group of really half a dozen people who make all the important decisions and really run the company on a daily basis. We all talk to each other, a lot; several times a day. We have a very collaborative style. The honest answer is I don’t bring anything in the house, creatively, but certainly I am involved with all the important decisions. I was really fortunate to bring a guy by the name of Bob Greenblatt in as our President of entertainment just about five years ago. And Bob and I spent a lot of time talking before he joined the company and I think the most important thing is that we both had the same view of what made a show a great show for premium TV and what the sensibility of Showtime should be. And Bob has done a tremendous job of executing against that.

Ryssdal: He also is the guy that said of Showtime, “You know, it’s not necessarily the network that I would have chosen to come to.” And yet here he is.

Blank: You know, I’m not sure why he said that but seriously, I think that the more time Bob and I spend together, the more we spent together back then, the more we felt that working together, we could accomplish some great things. It really is an effort that is not just driven by the programming but is driven by the marketing and the press we’ve managed to get. And you know, premium TV is still this sort of precious space on the television dial. Some might say precious, little space but certainly from an economic standpoint and the strength of these businesses it’s a much bigger space. But it does give you an opportunity to go places that others can’t first of all. And I think maybe that some of the historical mistakes is that may have been only the thing that defines some of our programming over the years as opposed to today where we have a very strong belief system of about what’s going to work for Showtime and what it takes to make a successful Showtime program. And we’ve managed to capitalize that in the last couple of years and I think Bob saw the benefit of ultimately working in an environment where the next day’s ratings were not the most important thing as broadcast network or even cable network. You know, we really have a very different brand in terms of how it’s sold and the measure of success is very, very different.

Ryssdal: So what are the differentiators between Showtime and some of the other premium channels out here?

Blank: You know something? It’s interesting. When we weren’t doing well, trade press would always ask that question, “How do you differentiate yourself?” Our cable customers, our satellite customers would say, “How do you differentiate yourselves from the others?” When you are doing well, the differentiators are obvious. And they’re not just made up words, they’re “Californication.” They’re “The Tudors.” They’re “Weeds.” They’re “Brotherhood.” They’re “Dexter.” They’re “The ‘L’ Word.” Those are the differentiators. You can come up with any explanation what Showtime is verses something else and none of it is as relevant as saying those words. The consumers have decided what the differentiators are, and fortunately they’ve chosen us.

Ryssdal: How important to you, as a guy who is leading this company in this media environment, and I apologize for the jargony term here…buzz…how important is it to get your product out there and have it be talked about?

Blank: It’s extremely important and probably more important than a show on a broadcast network or basic cable network. First of all, we’re in a relatively small number of homes. Roughly 16 million homes so it’s hard for us to get the same promotional weight behind the launch of a show, for instance or the continuation of a series in the course of a given year. Whereas if you are CBS and you’ve got a “CSI,” one of the top shows on television and you want to promote something premiering the next night, you can just bang it home over and over and get tremendous, tremendous reach in frequency using your own network. We don’t have that advantage so I think it’s all about the brand. People have got to want Showtime, they’ve got to know that there’s this great programming on Showtime. So when we do a show like a “Weeds,” or a “Dexter,” or a “Californication,” or shows that you wouldn’t expect to see anywhere else, it’s very important that people are talking about those shows, that people are writing about those shows and there’s sort of that counter-culture acceptance of those shows which I see in my kids. My daughter is in grad school and my son is in college and when “Weeds” came on the air, they said, “Wow. You know everyone is talking about this show, Dad.” And that’s a great generator of spin for the show and also for the brand. CBS really isn’t selling their brand day in and day out. Nobody is just buying CBS. They’re buying “CSI;” they’re buying “Survivor;” they’re buying the NFL. People are buying Showtime.

Ryssdal: What is the brand? Is the brand Showtime or is the brand “Weeds”?

Blank: Well, you know something? For the first time in my career I’m in a position to say we are not really worried about that because Showtime means something to people because of “Weeds” and “Weeds” is only on Showtime, and you can’t have a better situation than that.

Ryssdal: What keeps you up at night?

Blank: Just the fact that my metabolism doesn’t allow me to sleep. But you know, I always have this feeling in my apartment in New York City that when I pick up “The New York Times” and “The Wall Street Journal” and “Variety,” what will have happened while I was asleep or trying to sleep that will have changed the business? The media business changes incredibly quickly, the technology business changes incredibly quickly, and our distribution environment changes incredibly quickly. So we just want to make sure that, you know it all gets back to the brand so we just want to make sure that regardless what happens out there in the marketplace, we can sleep well at night because the brand is so strong and because our programming is so strong. And the technology can change and the distribution can change but “Californication” is still ours. “Dexter” is still ours. And we have a strong belief system that if we keep doing that well, this is a network that will prevail regardless of what happens with the technology and the different ways our product may be distributed and the constant changing of ownership in these industries and consolidation that is just going to happen.

Ryssdal: Showtime has gotten a lot of credit actually for using technology, using things like i-Tunes and making it up so it’s available on the web; obviously a conscious decision on your part. Why?

Blank: You know something, we like to think that we’re a little bit more aggressive than maybe some of our competitors are, largely because we’ve been historically disadvantaged, historically number two, haven’t always had the same resources to compete, the same marketing dollars. So when I look at what we call our digital group, our digital marketing group does, they have just done amazing things behind these products. You know when we launched “The Tudors” this year for season two we had over a million streams of the first episode over the internet to promote it. We view that technology as being an enabler right now. We love I-tunes. If you’re CBS, you can reach over 110 million households with your programming. So when you put a show out there on the internet for somebody to purchase in an electronic download environment watch, it’s really not because someone didn’t have access to it, it’s because they’ve chosen to watch it in that form or they’ve chosen to own a show in that form. It’s a conscious decision to go there rather than to watch a show at nine o’clock on CBS. In our case, again, we are in roughly 16 million homes. There’s tremendous economic opportunity to have people watch “Californication,” or “Weeds,” or “Dexter” or “The Tudors” on an I-tunes or another platform. But it’s much more than that. Right now those dollars are not material enough that they are going to change our business. But what does change our business is that it continues to build a brand. And it gives people access to our service that aren’t in our family right now, that Showtime family right now. We view that as a tremendous opportunity. There was a moment in time back in February where six of the top ten seasons of television shows on I-tunes that particular week were Showtime shows. That makes a tremendous statement about the power of those shows and ultimately we want to make sure it makes a statement about the brand. If somebody goes to I-tunes or goes elsewhere and watches a season of “Californication,” or a season of “Weeds,” or a season of “Dexter,” hopefully what happens ultimately is they’ll say, “Wow, I better subscribe to Showtime.” So that’s a very important part of our marketing initiative.

Ryssdal: So they watch the show on line whether it’s streaming off your site or off I-tunes…they can’t actually call Showtime and say I’d like to order that show to watch, right? They have to go through this middleman which is the cable company. How do you do business when you can’t really get to the customers you need to get to?

Blank: Well, you’re right. One of the problems that we’ve all, not just Showtime, but we’ve all of us in this premium category for years have faced is that it is a middleman business. We really have three forms of distribution. First it was cable, then satellite and now the phone companies…Verizon and AT&T distributing our product. We think for instance, if you could walk into a supermarket tomorrow and buy Showtime on the same shelf as HBO and other competitors, it would probably be performing even better than we are today. Having said that, those distribution environments have responded incredibly positively to how well we are doing with our programming and the importance of these shows and the brands to they’re offering. And remember, they now have competitors. For years the cable operator didn’t have competitors. The satellite guys are tremendous competitors and the phone companies will be competitors. So, we like that environment. We like the fact that there’s now that potentially in the suburbs of New York City you have Verizon FiOS, you have DirectTV and Dish, you have Time-Warner and Cablevision. You know, the fact that they all compete now, we think creates and environment that is perhaps a little bit better for our service.

Ryssdal: When you sit back and get objective about your situation, is this a high-stress job?

Blank: I think it’s hard in our society in this country today and these economic times, not to think that most jobs aren’t high-stress at some point and time. I think yes, it’s a high-stress job but I certainly don’t feel sorry for myself; I don’t say, “Boy is my job stressful compared to somebody else.” Stress can be a good thing when you are successful. When you are in a very stressful situation and you don’t get to celebrate the benefits of all that stress and hard work and the rewards, I think that’s when it’s hardest. I think when times are good you can run on adrenaline for a long time. You can deal with a stressful situation after stressful situation, but at the end of the day, things are going well for your employees, and the people you work with, and the programming and the networks business model…that’s worth the stress. When you really knock yourself out and you say, was that really worth it? I think that’s when you’ve got to question what you are doing.

Ryssdal: When Les Moonves who runs CBS calls you and once you get past the “Hi Matts, how are you?”…what do you guys talk about? What does he want to know about how you are doing business?

Blank: Well, Leslie has been a really terrific boss. I’m not going to go into all of them but I’ve been CEO for 13 years, I’ve had seven bosses, so that’s about a tumultuous a corporate history you can have. Leslie has been terrific on any number of fronts. First of all, he’s a guy who is born of the importance of the creative product. So just about when we moved over to work for Leslie, “Weeds” was coming on the air; and that was our first really great success in the past couple of years. So Leslie has been a tremendous supporter and I think he loves what we’re doing. But he’s a very aggressive, competitive, hands-on CEO. So, I will talk to Leslie, I’ve talked to him twice today already, about any number of issues. The nice thing about when I went to work for him, he really didn’t know much about our business. It was not the world he had come from. When you put “CSI” on the air and it was a big success, you start monetizing it the next week. It can take years for these shows to have the same value on Showtime. He understands our business now and he is very involved in it.

Ryssdal: So TV isn’t TV isn’t TV. I mean, one TV show is another TV show.

Blank: Well, first of all I don’t think that’s true if you’re thinking about the creative product; certainly as a business model, not at all and I think there were times when people didn’t think we had the best business model at all. I think now that most people in television or the entertainment industry are very jealous of the business model we have.

Ryssdal: Describe it for me.

Blank: It’s unique. First of all, I’ve always said that unlike most traditional networks, we’re not purely in the eyeballs business and we have the luxury of being a little bit more in the hearts and minds business. And if we can own peoples hearts and minds with shows like “Weeds” and “Dexter,” and that buzz you were talking about, ultimately that accrues to benefit the benefits of the brand. But again, what I got to before, if you create a new hit show…just go back to “CSI.” When CBS put “CSI” on the air and it did great, within a week, they’re monetizing. That’s success. In terms of the size of the audience, in terms of the demos that are delivering and the rates they can charge advertisers and how they sell out those shows. With us, it is a slow build. I don’t think we have yet really seen the benefit of all this programming, I think we’ve got some great times ahead because it takes a while. Once the press knows about it and we all think it’s great, it takes a while to get it down to that consumer level and to be really the things that people talk about. And we don’t need to premier a show at ten o’clock on a Sunday night and look at the ratings the next day and have had a huge winner. We can look at people who watch it on our on demand model, people have Showtime on demand for the next month, we can look at the DVR viewership. And sometimes we have the luxury of saying here’s a show that didn’t quite perform up to our expectations from a ratings standpoint. But we think it’s very premium TV, we thinks it’s one of the best shows on television and we’re going to renew it. So “Brotherhood” is a great example of that. We love “Brotherhood” and we just renewed it for a third season. It has not been a ratings winner for us and it won a Peabody award. So we have that luxury and most networks don’t really have that luxury.

Ryssdal: I’m trying to remember how long it took “The Sopranos” to become this cultural force that it eventually did, and I’m wondering which of your shows we’ve been talking about… “Californication,” “Dexter,” and “Weeds,” and “Brotherhood”…you would put your money on in that cultural sweepstakes?

Blank: I think one of the reasons that people have been talking about us and we are getting all of this buzz and one of the reasons you and I are sitting here today talking is that we got several of those. You know, that’s a rare moment.

Ryssdal: But how much time do you have though? How much time do you have to build that wave?

Blank: Business is working well. We think the wave is building and we’ve got a couple of things in the wings. Look we just saw a rough cut this week of a show called “The United States of Terror” starring Toni Collette, a Golden Globe winner, I believe. Terrific film actress. From Spielberg. Written by Diablo Cody who wrote “Juno.” And that’s waiting in the wings now and we’re trying to figure out can we get it on the air this year or next year, and if we just go ahead, we just saw a rough cut of the pilot. We shot a pilot last week in New York with Edie Falco, the first thing she’s done…

Ryssdal: From “The Sopranos”…

Blank: Yes. Edie had a table full of offers to do things and she chose this particular show because of the nature of the work and the opportunity to work with us and we can’t imagine that we won’t love that when we see it. One of the that success with a couple of these shows breeds is not just this buzz that you are talking about in this consumer world and our basic business model, but it also means that sitting here in Los Angeles in the heart of the community, that people who might not have had Showtime at the top of their list, either in front of or behind the camera three or four years ago are knocking on our door. And this is a place where they want to be. They want to be where David Ducovney is, or Mary Louise Parker is, or where Michael C. Hall is and potentially Toni Collette and Edie Falco. So all of that works together and you try to ride the wave while you got it and you hope you can keep doing it. We think that the type of shows that we have on the air right now certainly have several years of strong performance left. Look, “Californication” has just gone into its next season, so it’s a little bit early to say, we have to worry about how that all comes to pass.

Ryssdal: Do you and your staff, do you find yourself making pitches for Showtime to smart producers or are smart producers coming to you now?

Blank: I think the difference is that I think we are the first stop on a lot of people’s tour of this town with their great product and that’s a position we’ve never been in and that’s the great advantage I think we have today. If the best people in this town want to work with you and work for you, there’s going to be a lot more coming down the pike.

Ryssdal: Hollywood is not always the most collegial of places to work. Do you have a little schadenfreude you now about your situation vis a vis HBO?

Blank: You know, you can’t…this business will change on you very quickly and you got to remember that. You’re probably only as good as that last episode of any of these great shows. But again, we just feel very, very confident about the future and the things we are looking at as well as the strength of some of the existing shows. And I keep getting back to it, it’s not just HBO, there’s a lot of competition in the environment today for great programming, great scripts, great creators, great talent. But I do think the particularly unique environment of premium television provides an interesting palette today for people who want to create great work. And also know that that work has a great chance of being successful if we go forward with it. And that’s a great advantage right now and we don’t intend to squander it.

Ryssdal: So when you’re at a cocktail party and somebody says to you, “What do you do?” and you say, “I run Showtime.” What’s the reaction? Do they say, “Oh Wow, that’s great! I love it.” Or do they say, “What?”

Blank: Well, it was a lot of years of “What?” and there’s a lot of “That’s great!” so cocktail parties are a lot more fun than they used to be. You don’t have to drink as much.

Ryssdal: Let me ask you this though, you guys were out in the wilderness relatively speaking for a lot of years; what were you not doing right in those years that you have somehow turned around?

Blank: There were a lot of years that we were actually fairly successful financially. By managing budgets, creating product to an economic model, and you know, it’s just a matter of, I think when we found the right formula for breaking out of that mold…and this is not easy stuff to do you know you have dozens and dozens of networks out there trying to do it day in and day out and some of the biggest names in the history of television and cable television struggle daily to get great, creative product. And I think we just sort of had the right timing of people and willingness to invest in programming and a team at Showtime that could take this great product and make something of it. So, again, just firing on all cylinders; that’s the expression I use.

Ryssdal: This is an opportune time for you personally, since you have taken Showtime to where it is today with some amount of brand name recognition. What’s left out there for you to do?

Blank: I wake up real early every morning and can’t wait to get to the office and there’s always something to do. You know, when I look at the world out there in our business, there are not a lot of jobs I would consider better than my job. I got a great job, I work with great people, and I consider myself very fortunate and I really can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing right now.

Ryssdal: What are the challenges?

Blank: The challenges are that we have a tough customer, universe that you know that has a lot of competing networks, competing objectives within the companies. You know, it used to be that our distributors just sold video, they just sold channels to people and reception. Now they sell internet access, high-speed internet access, they sell phone service. So it’s always a challenge to get the share of mind from the people who we rely on to market our service every day, but again, the programming helps. The competition will always be there. You can be sure that a lot of money will be invested to come at us and to take great programming ideas that might have come our way away from us. But we really don’t worry about that. I think that until we see the day that we don’t think we can make great programming, we think we can make great programming.

Ryssdal: Twenty four hours is a lot of air time to fill and you guys obviously have to put more on than just “Californication” and “Weeds” and “Dexter” and all the rest of them. A lot of that time you fill with movies and just recently Paramount, a sister company, if you will, under the Sumner Redstone Viacom umbrella has said, “You know what? We are just going to try and do our own movie channel out there and not run with Showtime anymore.” Is that a problem for you?

Blank: No, we don’t think so. You know, they didn’t say that in a vacuum, they said that after a year, a year and a half of negotiating with us on an extension of a deal where we just said we weren’t going to keep paying the fees that we paid for those films so they decided that they would kind-of take their own route here, which is their prerogative. There are so many movies out there in the environment, so many people who want to sell us movies, and I think that we’ll probably announce a couple things in the months to come. The films we’re talking about will still be running on our network into 2011 so it’s not a “how do we program the network next week, or next month issue” it’s in the long term what are the sources of movies for us and there are any number of people knocking on our doors trying to sell us films. What we’ve seen, and it has been a gradual thing over the past decade is that while feature films used to drive TV, the number of people that are previously exposed whether seeing a film in a theater, or on DVD or on electronic download just increases, increases and increases prior to that film coming to a Showtime a year or so after its theatrical release. And when we look at the future, it’s only likely to increase with the technology. And one thing our research tells us is that if our original programming is great, and we fill the schedule with a lot of movies which we intend to keep doing, people give us credit for having great feature films because it’s the original programming which drives the brand. And the relative economics just didn’t work for us anymore and I’ll give you an example that we use all the time, and it would be unfair to name this movie, but there was a film that came to us through one of these studios a few years ago and I always use it as an example. It had a huge opening weekend because of the talent and it was a terrible film. And we pay on box office rentals, so we paid over 14 million dollars for that film. That’s a season of one of our hits and by the way, nobody would know that that show was on Showtime. I’m sorry that that movie was on Showtime, but they all know that that series is on Showtime. So it is very simple, we have nothing against the feature film business, we have nothing against the studio partners of ours, the value formula just didn’t work any more and we were paying far too much for these films and we had so much original work that we needed to get on the air that really the comparisons were really a no-brainer.

Ryssdal: Showtime is plus or minus a billion dollar business but you are part of a very large corporation, CBS, which is under the control of a guy named Sumner Redstone…

Blank: Yes.

Ryssdal: Who is widely known for his interest in managing his companies quite closely. How much independence do you really have?

Blank: The great thing about Sumner, and I’ve worked now in Sumner’s companies for 20 years, is he is a guy who wants his executives to go out and work hard and build the best businesses possible. He’s never been a guy who told any of his executives, either the divisional heads or the guys running the corporations of today what to do on a daily basis. I think he’s very involved in his assets and the value of his assets and tries to ensure that they are being managed as aggressively as possible. Sumner is a very aggressive business man but he has always believed in hiring the very best people and demanding the best performance and I think that when he gets that performance, he’s very happy.

Ryssdal: How do you know when a show is going to be a hit? What do you look for when you are watching those pilots?

Blank: Boy, if I could answer that, I think I could probably be producing shows. You know, for us it’s very interesting because we seem to have kind-of hit on a formula in terms of the creative make-up of a lot of our programming in the past couple years that are doing well. If you look at our series, they are mostly about people and mostly families who are kind-of living kind-of right on the edge of acceptable behavior and many times over the edge of acceptable behavior. A lot of families that are kind-of, you might say these are dysfunctional families, and I think…look, you’ve got a suburban housewife mom whose husband dies and she can’t pay the mortgage so she’s selling pot to the neighbors and the parents. You’ve got a guy who is a Miami forensics cop who is really a serial killer but he only kills people who deserve to die. With a strong family connection there, “Weeds” is all about the family. Was there ever a more screwed up family in history than the Tudors? They’re so screwed up that that stuffs plays great 500 years later. Bob and I said that we’d never do a period piece. So that seems to be a formula that works. Combine that with very strong lead characters and tremendous talent, the ability to attract a Johnny Rhys Meyers to play Henry the Eighth that nobody ever saw before. Mary Louise Parker who always was just a little off in the role she chose and was so successful at, and she’s so sweet and that’s why she’s so spectacular in “Weeds.” David Duchovney in “Californication”…and I could go on and on. There’s a few common elements in these shows, even though they’re very different, that people seem to respond to. Maybe it’s because life today is so screwy, families today are so screwy, that maybe they are not like these families, but something about that dysfunction, something about the off-beat nature of these families is striking a chord with people. And they’re smart shows and I think they feel very smart to people.

Ryssdal: When you sit down for an interview, do you say to yourself quietly, “If you ask me about HBO I’m going to scream.”

Blank: You know I used to…because I used to always have to defend our situation versus HBO. Now it’s just easier to say, “You know I can’t control what HBO does. We’re doing great and we are going to continue doing great.” We spend very little time talking about those guys in our company. I think we talked about them more when we weren’t doing so well, but when you are doing well, you focus on yourself.

Ryssdal: Do you think they talk about you now?

Blank: Oh, I bet they do but I don’t want to talk about that because then I’d be talking about HBO.

Ryssdal: I want to ask you about this deal that Smithsonian made with HBO not too long ago, for some rights to documentary material and those sorts of things. Smart business move on your part. Do you think it’s the right thing to do?

Blank: You know, that particular venture, the Smithsonian network, is now launched. It’s on network TV, it’s on Dish, Charter and a few others coming. It was tremendously misrepresented in the press. It was sort of represented as…and this was a real issue for us because it took us a lot longer to get off the ground really based on nothing that we have done. We honorably entered into an agreement that would have stood up against most other business agreements that networks like ours and organizations like the Smithsonian would enter into and because there were internal problems, there was a great deal of bad publicity. And their internal problems made it hard for them to defend the nature of a lot of this programming coming to a commercial venture. The reality is that maybe one or two requests of the Smithsonian each year will be turned down because of this exclusive arrangement. It’s just not material but they had a tremendous difficulty telling the real story there because of their own internal problems which were kind of splashed across the pages of the Washington Post every day. We feel very good about it and the programming…we’re just starting to see the breadth of this stuff and it’s really terrific programming, which we think will build a successful network, which we manage, and ultimately have tremendous value to the Smithsonian in allowing them to support the very expensive infrastructure of that institution. And if anything, they were probably 15 or 20 years late in recognizing the value of that asset as National Geographic Society and others did. But unfortunately, because some bad things were going on internally in the institution, there was nobody really there to tell the story. And we suffered because of that too, I believe.

Ryssdal: Five years from now, what does Showtime look like in terms of that water cooler conversation?

Blank: Hopefully it looks like a bunch of the same shows that are on now, because as I’ve said, “Californication” is only in its second year. We’ve got a couple of great things in the wings. And I think if there is 8 or 9 great things on the air right now that people are talking about at that point in time, there will be 12, 13, 14, 15. A lot of movie product, still a lot of boxing, mixed martial arts and maybe some other things in that world. We think that the current environment is one we’re just seeing so much more of the types of things we’d like to put on Showtime that we would be very surprised if you don’t see a lot more of it.

Ryssdal: So we are going to see ultimate fighting on Showtime sometime?

Blank: Well, it’s already there. Not ultimate fighting but our own version of it. And we’ll see where that goes. It is the sport of young males, as you probably know.

Ryssdal: Matt Blank is the Chairman and CEO of the Showtime Network. Matt, thanks a lot for your time.

Blank: Thanks. This was great.

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