NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- CBS's (CBS) - Get Report Showtime is following its longtime rival Time Warner's (TWX) HBO online, the latest effort by networks to make their content available to younger viewers who may not subscribe to pay-TV.
CBS will offer Showtime as a standalone Internet-based service starting in early July, initially partnering with Apple (AAPL) - Get Report. The service will be available first for users of an iPhone, iPad or AppleTV though CBS said additional partners will eventually be added. HBO Now, which Time Warner introduced in April, was also initially partnered with Apple.
The debut of the service, to be called SHOWTIME, will coincide with the opening of a new season for two of CBS's most popular shows: Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex, which premiers on July 12. The online service will cost $10.99 per month, lower than HBO NOW, which goes for $14.99 per month.
The target audience for SHOWTIME, as with HBO NOW, is the roughly 10 million U.S. homes that have an Internet connection but don't subscribe to pay-TV as well an additional 70 million homes that get do subscribe to pay-TV but don't get Showtime.
Showtime's online service comes after years of consumer complaints that the traditional 150-plus channel bundle forces them to pay for dozens of channels that they never watch. The popularity of Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report and Hulu has also demonstrated that consumers are increasingly expecting to be able to watch whatever show they want, whenever they want.
In response, pay-TV providers and individual networks have rolled out online services such as Dish Network's (DISH) - Get Report Sling TV and Viacom's standalone offering for its children's network Nickelodeon.
"Going over-the-top means Showtime will be much more accessible to tens of millions of potential new subscribers," CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement. "Across CBS, we are constantly finding new ways to monetize our programming by capitalizing on opportunities presented by technology.
CBS shares were gaining 0.8% to $62.18 in Thursday trading, extending its year-to-date gains to 12%.