Premium cable TV channel Showtime plans to launch a service that will stream episodes of original series like Weeds, The Tudors and Californication to subscribers, a source told Bloomberg Businessweek.
Details about the new service are scarce, but the network is reportedly discussing the plans with the cable operators that distribute its channels, who are undoubtedly concerned that an online service will cut into revenues for traditional cable TV distribution.
Don’t be too afraid that the plans will fall through, though; Showtime’s chief rival, HBO, already offers a similar service called HBO Go and content from other premium channels is available through other cable packages. Additionally, online distribution is a built-in cornerstone at rival premium network Epix, which only recently began operations.
Showtime already offers select episodes on its website as part of a campaign to try to sign up new subscribers for its cable channels, and some of those episodes are available through TV.com as well. (TV.com and Showtime are both owned by CBS). Expect this new service to offer a much larger library of episodes on demand, though.
Furthermore, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to subscribe to the online service without also signing up for a cable or satellite TV package, so don’t get your hopes up if you want to keep your TV viewing habits to the web alone.
The new service might resemble the slick “For Your Consideration” site that Showtime operates for special viewers like execs and awards show voters (see below). Would access to something like this make you more likely to pay to add Showtime to your cable or satellite TV service?