Just last month, CBS-owned Showtime officially announced plans for a new a la carte subscription service to compete with similar services from rivals such as HBO. Today, the network finally launched the new venture, bringing its self-titled service to several platforms including the Apple TV and other Apple devices, Roku boxes, Sony’s Playstation Vue streaming service, and the Web.
Showtime, much like the a la carte services that have come before it, offers access to the channel’s current and back catalog of content without the requirement of a cable or satellite subscription. Users get live East and West Coast feeds of shows like Homeland and Ray Donovan, on-demand access to sports, documentaries, and other series, and on-demand streaming of popular movies for $11 a month ($4 less, it’s worth noting, than rival service HBO Now).
While it was initially thought that Showtime would follow its premium network competitor and launch exclusively on Apple devices, that plan was squelched just days after the service’s official unveiling as the company added more partners to the fold.
Like HBO, CBS is hoping an a la carte offering can entice cord cutters who don’t subscribe to traditional TV packages. Analysts estimate that the satellite TV and cable industry lost more than 31,000 subscribers in the first quarter of this year, an acceleration of a continuing trend. CBS especially is hoping to boost viewership of its premium channel which, at 22.8 million paid cable subscribers, lags behind HBO (31.4 million) and Starz (23.3 million).
In another effort to boost Showtime’s userbase, CBS also sweetened the pot, announcing a partnership last month to offer paying Hulu subscribers discounted, $9 a month Showtime subscriptions, a $2 markdown from the standard fee. It’s CBS’s latest move of several in the pay TV streaming space — the corporation made Showtime available as part of an add-on to Sony’s PlayStation Vue Internet TV service earlier this year, and says it’s part of the “ongoing conversation” around Apple’s rumored TV package.
Why simultaneously target cord cutters and pay TV subscribers? By accommodating both, premium networks like Showtime hope to have their cake and eat it, too. And with anticipated offerings like the return of Twin Peaks, Showtime may soon be able to snag a whole new swatch of customers.