Showtime to launch standalone service on Roku, PlayStation in addition to Apple
Showtime Networks' over-the-top Internet video service will be available on Roku and Sony's PlayStation devices when it launches in early July, expanding beyond its initially announced distribution deal with Apple.
The service, to cost $10.99 per month, is aimed at broadband-only households that don't have traditional pay-TV service, similar to HBO's strategy with the recently introduced HBO Now service.
Showtime -- similar to its arrangements with cable and satellite TV affiliates -- will provide a recurring share of the monthly subscription fee to Apple, Roku, Sony and future OTT distributors, Showtime chairman and CEO Matt Blank said.
The CBS-owned cable network is not letting users sign up for the Showtime OTT service directly. "We've had great success working with third-party distributors," Blank said. "These new partners bring well-established brands and a large base of online-video users."
Roku has said it has sold more than 10 million Internet-streaming devices in the U.S., while Sony claims 35 million PlayStation 3 and PS4s are in use in the States. Sony will offer the Showtime service via its PlayStation Vue OTT television service, which currently is available only in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
With the OTT strategy, Showtime — which has nearly 24 million pay-TV subs — is looking to reach so-called cord-nevers and cord-cutters, who don't have an interest in traditional cable or satellite plans.
As for the $11 price point, Blank said that decision was "not very scientific... We thought it was a good place to put a stake in the ground." Showtime's OTT service will be less than HBO Now, at $15 per month, but more than Netflix's plans, which start at $8.99 monthly for new customers.
Showtime's launch of the standalone, broadband-only service is timed for the July 12 season premieres of original series "Ray Donovan," starring Liev Schreiber, and "Masters of Sex," starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.
Roku customers in the U.S. will be able to subscribe to the Showtime service via an app in the Roku Channel Store; those who sign up in July will be offered a 30-day free trial subscription. Subscribers to Sony's PlayStation Vue can access the network's service for an a-la-carte monthly price of $10.99.
Users who sign up on one platform can't access Showtime on another OTT distributor's apps; for example, if a customers orders the service via Roku they can't Apple's iOS apps to access the service.
The Showtime OTT service, like its Showtime Anytime "TV Everywhere" service for pay-TV subs, includes live broadcasts of the premium cabler's East and West coast feeds, as well as unlimited on-demand access to every season of original series and hundreds of hours of movies, documentary and sports programming.
Showtime said it decided to dub the standalone OTT service simply "Showtime" in order to "underscore the strength of the brand and ease potential confusion in the marketplace."