Louis C.K.’s comedy series Horace and Pete was a critical darling and a commercial dud. C.K. canceled his own series on Saturday, the same week the comedian did a long interview with King of All Media Howard Stern to try to jumpstart interest in the show. Stern and C.K. go way back — it was a terrific platform for the comedian-turned-producer to try to find a pop for Horace and Pete. But it was too little, too late as evidenced by the cancellation. Even Stern couldn’t deliver the Stern bump C.K. needed.
If anyone could succeed in a huge way with the Internet distribution model, C.K. was a good bet. C.K. has enjoyed massive commercial success in disrupting the entertainment distribution business before, pioneering direct selling to his fan base — once making nearly $5 million in two days selling tickets and millions more with downloadable specials. But in C.K.’s attempt to recreate the magic with Horace and Pete — despite its great cast — he couldn’t pull the rabbit from the hat. C.K. told Stern he lost millions on the show. Stern admired C.K’s grit and determination — and then Stern presumably kissed his latest killer contract with SiriusXM. Talk this summer was of Stern jumping ship to go it alone (or “over the top” in new media speak). C.K.’s Horace and Pete is a cautionary tale.