Against the backdrop of HBO soon-to-be launched stand-alone streaming service (coming in April exclusively to Apply devices – at first- just in time for season 5 of "Game of Thrones"), CBS chief Les Moonves said, at a Deutsche Bank media conference today, that Showtime will launch its own streaming service this year as well; although he didn’t give an exact date (he simply said "in the near future"), nor did he discuss pricing (in case you weren’t already aware, CBS owns Showtime Networks, its flagship premium cable TV channel).
Currently available is an all-access CBS (not including Showtime) stand-alone service, which includes a live stream of the network, full current seasons of prime-time shows, and a catalog of classic sitcoms and dramas, all at a cost of $5.99 per month.
Essentially, you can watch CBS live, on whatever web-enabled device you prefer, without a cable TV subscription, or bothering with an antenna for your TV. And you’ll have access to current and past seasons of its shows to watch, whenever you want.
I assume a Showtime stand-alone service would offer the same, although I’d guess likely at a slightly higher cost.
And viewership will be counted by Nielsen, the same way it is on TV, according to Moonves.
I also assume that the service will be comparable to what HBO Now offers: instant access to HBO’s programming, original series, the latest Hollywood hit movies, original HBO Films, documentaries, sports and comedy and music specials – all at a cost of $14.99 a month. A 30-day free trial will be offered at launch.
To reiterate something I’ve said previously, moves like these are all steps towards a total disruption of the way we watch TV. The days of traditional cable TV bundling are numbered, as more networks continue to offer their content directly to consumers. Instead of paying $60 to $150+ for cable TV service that includes hundreds of channels you don’t, and will likely never watch, you’ll get to pick the handful that you do want, and pay for the lot. Although, depending on how many you do select, your monthly fee could add up rather quickly, and then you’ll find yourself paying what you’d typically pay for cable TV anyway.
As for how cable TV and satellite providers might react to these moves (I can only imagine that other networks will follow) – Moonves doesn’t seem concerned, previously stating, "every media company in America is thinking about direct-to-consumer, mobile, digital," adding that, cable and satellite providers are mostly mixed about these new developments: "Some understand it and like it because, by the way, one of the things we are stressing is that [providers] can be part of it."
Content is king, and he who owns the content, is king.