When do clicks equal subscriptions? Premium cabler Starz smartly debuted its new series, the Brit-produced Diana Gabaldon adaptation "Outlander," for free on streaming platforms. This sweeping epic fantasy about a WWII-era nurse thrust into 18th century, civil-war-torn Scotland has drawn nearly a million viewers since it premiered August 7 on YouTube, VOD and the channel's app and streaming services. (And, it's worth noting, a strong female audience.)
But while "Outlander," which kicks off its 16-episode first season this Saturday and is destined to be huge, fits comfortably into the literary-minded niche created by "Game of Thrones" and "Downtown Abbey," Starz lacks the subscriber base of, say, HBO (which recently admitted its own Netflix envy).
Series like "Outlander" and Steven Soderbergh's grim medical drama "The Knick" -- also premiering this weekend, on Cinemax, which is owned by HBO -- are living proof of why premium original programming is a lure to subscribe to these channels. If you're not a subscriber, how do you watch? Starz, which has become something of a costume drama haven, knows what it's doing and is making "Outlander" available on Amazon/iTunes.
But as for the "The Knick," if you don't have Cinemax, you're out of luck for the time being.
For now, watch the first episode of "Outlander," and read reviews, below.