Showtime will be following in HBO’s footsteps with the debut of a standalone streaming service aimed at cord cutters, which will allow customers to subscribe to the network’s programming for a monthly fee of $10.99. The service will initially be available in July exclusively to Apple customers by way of iPhone, iPod touch, or Apple TV, in addition to the web.
Unlike with HBO, which introduced the HBO NOW brand to differentiate its standalone streaming service from its prior streaming offering for pay TV subscribers HBO GO, CBS-owned Showtime will not be introducing a new brand for its over-the-top play. Instead, the service will just be called “Showtime,” a brand the company says consumers are already familiar with as a home for original programming, sports and movies.
The launch of the over-the-top service is specifically being timed to coincide with the debut of two of Showtime’s more popular shows, “Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” on July 12. Of course, these shows don’t have the draw of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which began its latest season just as HBO NOW went live. That being said, the price for Showtime’s offering at $11 per month is slightly less than HBO NOW’s $15 per month fee, which may have some appeal to those who are rounding out their various cord-cutting packages.
“Going over-the-top means Showtime will be much more accessible to tens of millions of potential new subscribers,” said CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves in a statement about the deal.
“Across CBS, we are constantly finding new ways to monetize our programming by capitalizing on opportunities presented by technology. This works best when you have outstanding premium content – like we do at Showtime – and when you have a terrific partner like Apple – which continues to innovate and build upon its loyal customer base,” he added.
The service will include access to Showtime originals, plus hundreds of hours of movies, documentaries and sports, the network says. In addition, it will offer both the east and west coast live feeds for Showtime. Other shows the network offers include Homeland, “The Affair,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Shameless,” “House of Lies,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Happyish,” “Episodes,” and soon, “Billions” and “Twin Peaks.” Its sports programming includes “Showtime Championship Boxing,” “60 Minutes Sports,” and “Jim Rome on Showtime.”
A 30-day trial will be offered to those who sign up from Apple devices, Showtime notes.
While only available on mobile via Apple products at launch, the company says it will announce plans to expand to other platforms and providers soon. That also mirrors the path that HBO took with its streaming service – it first arrived on Apple devices, but then quickly rolled out over-the-top options via streaming service Sling TV, through cable providers like Cablevision, and most recently on the Android platform.
HBO has already seen some limited success with its over-the-top service for cord cutters HBO NOW, which is still the top grossing app in iTunes’ “Entertainment” category, and a top 20 grossing app overall on the App Store. However, its availability has yet to impact the piracy surrounding its top show, “Game of Thrones,” which continues to break torrenting records as the season continues.
News of the streaming service’s launch comes shortly after remarks Moonves made in May when he noted that CBS would “probably” sign up to participate in Apple’s long-rumored TV service. CBS itself already offers a standalone streaming service with CBS All Access, which debuted in October and now offers CBS programming as well as live TV feeds covering more than 60 percent of the U.S.’s TV markets.