Just a few days after HBO announced plans to offer a standalone streaming service exclusive to Apple products, Showtime has countered with its own promise of a way to watch shows like Penny Dreadful, Shameless, and Homeland without a traditional cable television subscription, as reported by Variety.
Speaking to investors at the Deutsche Bank Securities 2015 Media, Internet, & Telecom Conference this week, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves claimed that Showtime would have its own standalone streaming service similar to the recently announced HBO Now “in the not-too-distant future.”
“The days of the 500 channel universe are over,” said Moonves, adding that he believes “the floodgate is now open” when it comes to companies taking an a la carte approach to television subscription plans. While he didn’t offer any specifics about Showtime’s potential service, he indicated that the company has discussions with “the normal suspects” regarding the possibilities of such a service, and confirmed that negotiations are currently in the works.
“We got a number of calls yesterday from existing players and digital players that we’ve talked to in the past,” he added. “The content we have at Showtime is also premium. I don’t think there’s any way, shape, or form for anybody to look at [the HBO Now announcement] other than as a major positive for premium cable.”
No pricing was announced for the service, but HBO Now will debut for $15/month, a cost that looks daunting in comparison to Netflix, which costs just $9/month for a basic subscription for new subscribers. If Showtime’s new service debuts with a similar price tag, the channel will have to contend with major competition from the likes of Netflix and HBO Now, as well as Hulu Plus, Amazon, and others.
While today’s announcement is big news in the TV universe, it certainly isn’t unexpected. CBS has already been testing the Web TV waters, offering CBS All Access last fall — a streaming service that offers a mix of live and archived CBS content for a fee of $6/month. And once HBO announced plans to break the bonds of cable last October, the public has been waiting for the axe to fall on HBO’s premium subscription channel rival.
Still, the brash CEO’s all-but confirmation of the next step for Showtime is another hit to traditional cable, and further proof that the tide has truly turned when it comes to broadband-only TV. With Showtime, HBO Now, streaming services like Netflix, and Sling TV’s enticing collection of live TV channels being served up by satellite provider Dish Network, the a la carte Web TV buffet has never looked more enticing.
We’ll update this story as more details emerge, so stay tuned.