Stop me if you've heard this before. A premium cable channel is spinning off a streaming-only version of itself and debuting this new product exclusively on Apple hardware.
Yeah that sounds like HBO Now (mostly because it is HBO Now) but today we're talking about Showtime. Yesterday CBS announced a streaming only service called Showtime (with no further designation) coming July 12th on Apple TV, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
When HBO Now was announced, we knew Apple was getting a 3 month exclusive window to offer the service. CBS isn't saying how long Showtime will stay exclusive but that it'll update us with news of other platforms soon.
While HBO Now is $14.99/month, Showtime is $10.99/month and you can get a generous one month free trial. I guess the lower price reflects the difference in popularity between the two networks. (Anecdotally, since April I've been enjoying a free year of Showtime on my Time Warner Cable subscription. It's not something I asked for; I just got a letter one day saying I had a free year of Showtime. I don't know if I should take that as a sign that Showtime is struggling to gain subscribers or not.)
So what's included? "Subscribers will have unlimited on demand access to every season of award-winning SHOWTIME original series, and hundreds of hours of movies, documentary and sports programming, as well as the live broadcast of the east and west coast feeds of SHOWTIME" according to the press release.
While I'm once again slightly annoyed that this service is coming to Apple hardware first, I'm happy to see yet another channel being offered to viewers who don't want to pay for a cable subscription. It's worth pointing out that, in some cities, you can get local CBS channels the same way via CBS's $5.99/month All Access service. Even if the live channels aren't available in your area you can get next day access to a selection of its shows and lots of back catalog stuff.
For a long time CBS really dragged its feet when it came to offering its content via streaming but between these new services and offering shows like Under The Dome on TV and on Amazon Prime Video at the same time, the company seems to be quickly catching up, and arguably surpassing, what the other major networks are doing. I'm looking forward to seeing the other networks respond, because every move they make weakens big cable's stranglehold on TV.