After HBO’s announcement that next year it would begin offering its services to consumers directly - with or without a cable subscription - many began wondering when other premium channels such as Showtime would follow suit. Well apparently we now have an answer, if CBS’ Les Moonves is to be believed.
Networks are looking for ways to go direct-to-consumers and avoid "bundling” channels together with additional options no one actually wants for the sake of lofty cable subscriptions. Making high-profile premium-networks free of that old model is going to begin a movement that could go many different directions.
CBS Corporation’s been making a major push over the last month into the direct-to-consumer game, with offerings that include a $5/month subscription to all of CBS’s content both past and present, as well as a live stream of multiple high-profile local affiliates. That's in addition to a recently announced plan to launch a CBS News feed that would provide customers with similar services to that of CNN’s current model.
Aware of those facts, many knew it wouldn’t be long before the company began offering its underrated pay-TV juggernaut, Showtime, over-the-top. During a conference call, CBS Corporation president Les Moonves apparently confirmed as much, as reported by CNBC’s Julia Boorstin:
Moonves says we'll "fairly definitively" see stand-alone SHOWTIME offering in 2015. $CBS
— Julia Boorstin (@JBoorstin) November 5, 2014
While it may not seem like a big deal since its content is free over-the-air already, CBS choosing to offer a $5 subscription option for its current content means people who choose to become cord-cutters can still remain current with the rest of the world who’s watching television live over-the-air or with their existing cable and satellite plans.
Conversely, other networks such as ABC have taken an opposite approach that involve going behind a “cable subscription only” paywall for its content, despite it being over-the-air as well. CBS is leading the charge into a dramatic shift in the way we watch television.
The issue now is that Showtime has to find ways to get people to pay for its service, even while its hottest shows are now past their prime. Homeland is enjoyable but no longer the cultural phenomenon it was in season 1 - not to mention that Masters of Sex and Penny Dreadful have only somewhat caught on with the mainstream in the last year, never cracking far past their respective die-hard audiences. If Showtime is truly going to push into the realm of over-the-top service, it needs its Game of Thrones and Girls, and it needs them sooner rather than later.
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