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 Now, for a price of $11 per month. Today the network launched its 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. It's worth noting, however, that Showtime's service cost $4 less per month than 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 official unveiling of the service as the company added more partners into the fold.
Like HBO, CBS is hoping an a la carte offering can rope cord cutters who don't subscribe to traditional TV packages into purchasing its premium content. 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 an effort to boost its users, CBS also sweetened the deal, announcing a partnership last month to offer paying Hulu subscribers discounted Showtime subscriptions -- $9 a month versus the standard $11 a month fee. Moving further into streaming, the corporation made Showtime available as part of an add-on to Sony's PlayStation Vue Internet TV service, and is also part of the "ongoing conversation" around Apple's rumored TV package. Despite the moves, however, CBS has made it clear it doesn't intend to abandon traditional pay TV bundling anytime soon.
By targeting the cord-cutting market with a la carte offerings, but also ensuring prime pay TV placement, premium networks like Showtime and its rivals are hoping to effectively have their cake and eat it, too. And with anticipated offerings like the return of Twin Peaks, Showtime may soon be able to snag even more traditional cable subscribers, along with a whole new swath of cord cutters.