Opening with a mocking declaration of the upcoming Showtime Maxi+ Plus streaming service, Gary Levine put Disney+, HBO Max and all the streaming services on notice that the CBS-owned premium cabler is ready for battle – with a sense of humor as a weapon.
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Standing before the media crowd in the Beverly Hilton’s biggest ballroom, Levine extolled Showtime as “an island of stability” in an ever-shifting media landscape.
“We don’t just dump a show, send an email and hope it connects,” Levine asserted in a clear dig at the newbies and more established entities like Netflix. “We let conversation build over months with new episodes,” the 18-year vet of the outlet added in kicking off the Showtime executive session with fellow Entertainment president Jana Winograde.
“We believe in our ability to compete,” Winograde noted confidently of the addition of the House of Mouse’s fall-launching streamer — which includes Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars programming — AppleTV+ and the recently unveiled HBO Max from the AT&T-owned WarnerMedia.
Harking to the “pendulum swinging” in the small-screen business, Levine jumped in to note that creators still are picking up what Showtime is putting down because of the increased competition not in spite of them. “After being dazzled by the big boys,” the exec stated, producers and talent “long for the attention and care we take with our programming.”
Long an innovator in the digital environment, Showtime was among the first outlets to use its platforms to get shows out and up early. For the past several years, first episodes of the likes of Ray Donovan, City on the Hill, Billions and many other series on Showtime have debuted online and on the channel’s app up to a week beforehand.
Last summer, Showtime dropped episodes of Sacha Baron Cohen’s now Emmy nominated Who Is America? on its increasingly muscular app hours earlier than the satire’s linear debut. The effort to both engage with the actor’s core audience and create demand was a successful motivator in increasing sign-ups.
In that context, Levine and Winograde planted their flag even deeper today.