Showtime’s recently announced over-the-top streaming service aimed at cord cutters has now gone live. The service, which provides on-demand access to the network’s content as well as live TV feeds, is priced at $10.99 for those who purchase a subscription directly for use on Apple mobile devices including iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, as well as Apple TV, Roku and PlayStation Vue. However, Hulu customers will be able to add it on to their current subscription for the reduced fee of $8.99 per month.
The service is similar in some ways to HBO’s over-the-top offering, HBO NOW, which also first launched as an Apple exclusive. In addition, Showtime is tying the launch to the premieres of a couple of its popular shows (“Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” which debut on July 12). However, unlike HBO NOW, Showtime is differentiating its service by including its live East and West Coast feeds.
The CBS-owned Showtime network today offers a variety of movies and original series, including “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.”
Through its partnership with Hulu, the service is immediately available on a wider number of platforms that it is as a standalone offering. Hulu today can run on Android devices, iOS devices, Apple TV, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii and Wii U, Roku players and TVs, PS3 and PS4, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, as well as select smart TVs and Blu-ray players, and on the web at hulu.com.
Hulu is also subsidizing the cost of Showtime, in a clever deal designed to boost its own subscriber numbers. The company said its nearly 9 million subscribers can add the service (at $8.99/mo) on top of the base price of $7.99 per month for Hulu itself. The partnership represented a milestone for Hulu, too – it was the first time Hulu agreed to distribute a premium service to its customers.
It may not be the last time, either – Hulu doesn’t have any publicly announced plans to add more services like Showtime, but we understand the idea isn’t being discounted at the company. In fact, the way the service is being offered to Hulu customers hints that this could be the start of something more. Instead of just promoting it on the homepage, for example, Hulu has introduced a whole new top-level navigation section titled “Get Premium Add-ons.” It makes sense that the company would expand this beyond Showtime in the future.
At launch, Apple, Roku, PlayStation Vue and Hulu are all offering a 30-day free trial subscription to Showtime. To get started, users can download a Showtime app from the App Store, or add the Showtime channel on their Roku. PlayStation Vue customers can add on the service a la carte, then watch on their game console or the PlayStation Vue mobile app.
While the service is live as of today, Showtime says that it won’t begin its marketing push until tomorrow. This will include promotions via TV ads, print ads, digital banner, mobile ads, pre-roll video, search ads, social, and even in-cinema advertising.