After months of assuring investors that an over-the-top service was in the works, CBS Corp. on Wednesday announced it would introduce a broadband-only Showtime offering in early July.
Apple is the first partner to sign on as a distributor of the standalone service, which will cost $10.99 per month and won't require a cable or satellite TV subscription. (Showtime will offer a free 30-day trial to Apple users who sign on for the new streaming video on demand service before the end of July.) The debut of the service coincides with the July 12 season premieres of the Showtime hits "Masters of Sex" and "Ray Donovan."
The monthly fee will allow subscribers to access Showtime's feed via their iPhones, iPads, iPods and Apple TV. Other distribution partners are likely to climb onboard in the coming weeks.
CBS CEO Les Moonves first hinted at Showtime's move into over-the-top in November, when he told investors, "there are 10 million broadband-only consumers out there, and we expect to be able to reach them." At the time, Mr. Moonves was speaking about the October launch of the CBS All Access SVOD service, but later in the call COO Joe Ianniello said that Showtime "obviously sees the same opportunity HBO does."
Showtime's premium cable rival unveiled its OTT product, HBO Go, in March, just in time for the return of "Game of Thrones." HBO had announced its plans to roll out a service targeting cord-cutters and non-subscribers seven months earlier.
In March, Mr. Moonves reiterated his support for a standalone Showtime offering, while acknowledging that CBS was looking to mollify the fears of some operators who were a bit jittery about the prospect of cannibalization. "Other than a little consternation [from the operators], I cannot see how anyone cannot view this as a positive," Mr. Moonves said during a Q&A at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom conference.
In a statement issued today by CBS and Showtime, Mr. Moonves said the new SVOD service was yet another instance of the media conglomerate's knack for "finding new ways to monetize our programming by capitalizing on opportunities presented by technology."
CBS has a full or partial stake in 10 Showtime original series, including the two aforementioned dramas and the comedies "Nurse Jackie," "House of Lies" and "Episodes." While CBS does not break out Showtime's subscriber numbers (it also owns The Movie Channel and Flix), MoffetNathanson Research estimates that the network reaches some 23 million households.