MUMBAI: Early buzz suggests that HBO’s brand new original series True Detective, which premiered in India on HBO Defined on 19 January, may well turn out a winner.
With all eight episodes penned by novelist Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga, the opening season of the crime drama examines a grisly Louisiana crime through the eyes of the detectives who handled the case.
Matthew McConaughey – who just won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Leading Role for his turn in the Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers Club – and Woody Harrelson play detectives Rustin ‘Rust’ Cohle and Martin Hart, respectively, as they recall the gruesome murder of former prostitute Dora Kelly Lange, whose body is found with a symbol painted on the back and a ‘crown’ of deer antlers on the head. With the narrative yo-yoing between the 90s when the crime actually took place and present-day, flashback is extensively used.
Speaking to indiantelevision.com about the new series, HBO India managing director Monica Tata said that all HBO originals – series and movies made for HBO by HBO – were classified as premium content and were aired only on HBO Premium channels, that is HBO Hits and HBO Defined, without being punctuated by advertisements or breaks.
“HBO Originals are path-breaking content made for HBO by HBO, which is what makes them premium. Watch these award winning dramas, with stellar performances from the biggest names in Hollywood, 100 per cent ad-free, only on the HBO Premium Channels,” informed Tata. “Apart from being ad-free and break-free on HBO premium channels, HBO originals are available within a week of the US premiere, which sets them apart from competition on other English GECs. As True Detective will be airing on the HBO Premium channels, no ads or breaks will be seen during the show. Each episode is close to 60 minutes in length, which TV lovers can watch on HBO Defined 100% ad-free and break free.”
Asked if the series is suitable for prime time viewing, Tata replied: “HBO is known for its award-winning and critically acclaimed HBO original series and movies that air at prime time on HBO Premium channels, within a week of the US premiere. HBO originals are a key driver of our programming strategy for our premium channels and give consumers 100% ad-free entertainment.”
So how many seasons of True Detective do they plan to air? “The only TV series that HBO airs on its channels are HBO and Cinemax originals. Our content rights are for all commissioned seasons. As and when new seasons are added, rights for the same are acquired for the region,” she said.
Given the dark nature of the series, were there a lot of cuts? “All content that airs on our linear channels in India is edited to meet the expectations and requirements of the Indian market. Our content team takes great care to edit content in ways such that we can align these expectations without compromising on the viewing experience. Our target audience is in the age group of 15-44,” she responded.
What was the marketing strategy? “Our overall marketing message is focused on promoting HBO originals as cornerstones of the HBO experience. For the same, we have adopted a 360-degree approach that communicates with prospective subscribers of HBO premium channels from all directions and across long periods of time,” informed Tata.
So will audiences see more such gripping and compelling dramas now that True Detective is already on air? “HBO premium channels air a wide range of HBO original content. Starting with True Detective, viewers will get to see Hollywood’s biggest names in TV series and movies made by HBO for HBO. HBO originals have been a key part of the programming strategy for HBO premium channels since their launch in 2013. New seasons and series’ premieres for 2014 begin airing mid-January onwards. In 2014, not only will HBO Premium Pack subscribers get to watch the latest HBO original series such as True Detective, the year will also be filled with new seasons of existing popular HBO original shows such as Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, Boardwalk Empire, and many more,” Tata answered.
She emphasised that since HBO premium channels are completely ad-free and break-free there is no sponsorship or on-air advertising. They are available for subscription on all major DTH and cable platforms across India, with a reach of approximately 30 million homes. The primary viewership, like other English movie channels, comes from metro audiences. The rights to broadcast all HBO original content rest with HBO Asia.