Back in April, HBO made headlines by being the first major pay-cable network to launch a standalone service that allowed customers to access its programming without the aid of a cable subscription for $15/month on what is now known as HBO Now. However, HBO wasn’t the first entertainment company to go standalone, and now its major competitor is following suit.
Today, Showtime announced plans to launch its own similar service, simply known as Showtime, for $10.99/month starting in July. So far, the only announced partner in the service is Apple, though that will surely change over time, as it did for HBO.
It’s a little surprising Showtime was beaten to the punch by HBO in going OTT (over-the-top) considering the network’s owner, CBS, was so adamant about experimenting with the idea last year. It was then that CBS boss Les Moonves announced CBS All Access, a standalone service costing $5/month that gave viewers access to all of CBS’ programming across its various platforms, including library content. Many assumed it was going to pave the way for Showtime getting its own service, which it did, but not nearly as fast as some may have hoped.
What’s really fascinating in regard to Showtime’s service is the pricing. $10.99 is going to feel like a more reasonable fee for subscribers than HBO’s $14.99. Both services cost viewers about the same through traditional cable depending on the provider in a range of $10-$15/month, but it appears Showtime has decided to set the price of its standalone service on the low-end of that scale while HBO went for the high end. Will that make Showtime the victor in the end when yearly profits come in? Only time will tell.
Ultimately, this is the direction all of pay-cable is going to be heading in the future. You can be damn certain, especially now, with Showtime getting into the standalone ring, that Starz and Cinemax will follow their competition’s lead, which will then lead to other networks such as AMC, USA and TNT offering their own direct-to-consumer access.
The big question on those fronts, though, is how it will happen. Will those networks operate independently, or will they be looped into a larger service controlled by the mother ship company? Perhaps it won’t be a TNT service we see, but rather a Warner Bros. service that offers access to TNT, TBS and CNN all at once. Or perhaps we’ll see an NBCUniversal service that offers the ability to watch USA, Syfy and E! for one monthly subscription cost. The possibilities are currently endless.
Showtime's streaming service launches in July.
Source: The Wrap