HBO is trying something new, posting the premiere of their newest comedy, Silicon Valley, online for free, for both HBO customers and non-subscribers to watch online.
Silicon Valley could be something of a hard sell for HBO. For one, it’s a comedy series that lampoons the nerd-chic culture surrounding app developers, computer programmers and software gurus in the titular area of San Francisco. So it’s not a widely accessible subject for most of America. For another, it’s lacking heavy star power from other HBO shows like True Detective and Boardwalk Empire. Which may be why they’ve decided to post the entire premiere on YouTube, allowing HBO customers and non-subscribers alike to catch the pilot episode.
“Silicon Valley charts the rising fortunes of Richard, an introverted computer programmer who lives in a “Hacker Hostel” start-up incubator along with his friends Big Head, Gilfoyle, and Dinesh. These social misfits live under the watch of Erlich, a dotcom millionaire who lets them stay in his house for free – as long as he gets a 10% stake in their projects. Stuck working part-time at a large tech company called Hooli, Richard’s obscure website, Pied Piper, is going nowhere fast. But when a mid-level Hooli executive named Jared is apprised of the value of the site’s novel compression algorithm, Richard finds himself caught in the middle of an extreme bidding war between Hooli founder Gavin Belson and independent billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory.”
Based on the show’s potential, it looks like a good idea to make it as accessible as possible. There is a lot of talent behind Silicon Valley. The show is created by King of the Hill‘s Mike Judge, and it’s the first project he’s written and directed since Extract in 2009. Judge writes some of film’s best satire (See: Idiocracy), and has had success with numerous television series, getting his big break from MTV with Beavis and Butthead.
For Silicon Valley, Judge hired a group of comedians that have shaped the comedy scene for the last ten years in major cities like LA and Chicago. Kumail Nanjiani (Franklin & Bash), T.J. Miller and Thomas Middleditch may not be recognizable faces to the larger public but their popularity in the comedy scene is undeniable. Add in Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Party Down) and Zach Woods (The Office) and the cast is pretty impressive.
It’s obvious Silicon Valley is trying to be something focused and altogether original, but it’s such a specific idea that attracting viewers may be difficult. Accessibility might be the show’s biggest asset in finding an audience, which is why putting the show online might be such an important move.
Silicon Valley airs Sundays at 10 PM, after Game of Thrones. The show will run eight episodes this season.