Take That, HBO: Showtime Launching Its Own Standalone Streaming Service

When TV networks play “monkey see, monkey do” with one another, it usually involves particular show genres or concepts. This latest trend, however, doesn’t center on what we’re watching, but how we’re watching it. Following yesterday’s news that HBO signed a (presumably temporary) exclusive deal with Apple for the premium cabler’s HBO Now streaming service, CBS chief exec Les Moonves has announced his own Showtime will also soon offer its own cable-free subscription-based streaming service.

Speaking with investors at the Deutsche Bank Securities 2015 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference – an event I’m sure all of our readers attend each year – Moonves said that he’s been dealing with all the usual outlets in attempting to get distribution deals off the ground. He claims that many were initially hesitant, thinking that it might spit in the face of regular broadcast TV, but they’re come around. He goes further into it, according to Deadline.

I think the floodgate is now open…We got a number of calls yesterday from existing players and digital players that we’ve talked to in the past…The content we have at Showtime is also premium. I don’t think there’s any way, shape or form for anybody to look at [HBO Now] other than as a major positive for premium cable.

Indeed, Moonves has already had some success in the cord-cutting streaming field, bringing CBS All Access to subscribers late last year. Anyone willing to drop $5.99 a month will be granted access to over 6,500 episodes from dozens of series in CBS’ library, as well as the ability to watch live TV in certain markets. (Moonves claims he’s close to getting way more affiliates to offer the live service in the next few months.) It’s unclear at this time what the Showtime service would provide customers.

According to Moonves, there are already over 100,000 subscribers to CBS All Access, though he wouldn’t divulge the specific number. That’s no surprise, given CBS’ reign as TV’s top-rated network, but still a stellar number, considering how widespread CBS is. But how will that transfer to the far less-watched cable network?

The Big Bang Theory’s rough average of 19 million viewers an episode is a far cry from the 800,000 people that tune into House of Lies on a weekly basis, so Moonves likely has a realistic outlook for what kind of response this new Showtime service would get. After all, even new and upcoming series like Steve Coogan’s Happyish and the return of Twin Peaks likely won’t drive millions to get on board. But I could easily be wrong, as TV habits are definitely an evolving force.

Let’s not forget that Nickelodeon also has its own service, and we will almost definitely be seeing more networks try to ape the Netflix model. Let us know how you feel about Showtime’s plans.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.