CBS Is Set to Launch Standalone Showtime to Compete with HBO, Netflix

LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- CBS (CBS) may soon announce a start date for its Showtime streaming-only service. The move could come on May 7 when the company reports its quarterly earnings, according to two people with knowledge of the media company's conversations with potential distribution partners.

The release of the online version of Showtime, CBS's premium TV service, follows similar offerings from Time Warner's (TWX) HBO NOW and satellite-TV operator  Dish Network's (DISH) Sling TV as well as Netflix's (NFLX) aggressive expansion into producing and acquiring original content.

CBS has held talks with several possible distributors, including Apple (AAPL), Dish and electronics giant Sony (SNE), according to the people who are not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations. The talks are fluid and CBS could decide to wait or may provide few details if it makes an announcement, said another person with knowledge of the media company's thinking.

CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr and Dish spokesman John W. Hall all had no comment.

"We're continuing to talk to all networks our users are interested in, and will have more to share later," said Sony spokesman Sean Yoneda.

In March, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told an investor conference that his company had stepped up talks with potential distribution partners following Time Warner's announcement that Apple would offer its HBO Now online-only service on Apple devices. He said an announcement would be made "in the not too distant future."

Sony carries CBS network programming on its Vue streaming service that's being offered in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Dish and CBS said late last year that they had agreed on a "path to over the top distribution of Showtime Networks" when they announced an extension of their agreement for the satellite operator to offer CBS programming to its TV subscribers.

CBS is expected to offer the standalone streaming Showtime service at a price comparable to the $15-a-month subscription fee that most cable and satellite content providers, including HBO NOW, charge subscribers. The name of the new streaming service couldn't be determined.

 

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held positions in the DIS, CBS and AAPL.

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