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Why wait? Showtime to let viewers stream Shameless, Billions before TV premieres

Shameless season six and Billions are coming to Showtime in January, but the premium network isn’t going to make viewers wait for the shows’ premiere dates. Showtime announced Monday that the shows will be available on multiple streaming platforms starting on Friday, January 1. Among viewers’ streaming options will be YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, Roku, PlayStation Vue, iTunes, Sho.com, cable VOD, and the Showtime Anytime service, according to Variety.

The official premiere date for Shameless season six is January 10 at 9 p.m. ET, while Billions is set to debut on January 17 at 10 p.m. ET. By allowing viewers to stream the shows early, Showtime is shortening the wait time for each by over a week and hopefully creating buzz that will encourage more viewers to tune in. It’s especially exciting for Shameless fans, given that the show is currently between seasons.

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A remake of a British comedy-drama series, Shameless follows a dysfunctional family, headed by a single Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy). Thanks to their father’s drinking problem, Frank’s kids have been largely left to fend for themselves, resulting in a variety of shenanigans. The series also stars Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin, Emma Kenney, and more.

Billions is an upcoming drama series about hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), two players in New York’s world of high finance. Each will try to strategically outmaneuver the other over the course of the 12-episode first season. The series co-stars Maggie Siff and Malin Ackerman, among others.

As Variety points out, it’s becoming increasingly common for shows to get online premieres prior to their TV debut or shortly thereafter. The premiere of HBO’s Ballers this summer, for example, was the network’s most watched comedy episode (based on live plus same-day numbers) since the finale of Entourage in 2011, garnering some 5.6 million views on star Dwayne Johnson’s Facebook page.

Showtime has also tested making episodes available via online platforms in the past. After the Halloween premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead, for example, the show posted the first episode on its Facebook page.