Showtime is going over the top in Canada, not as a stand-alone streaming service as in the U.S. market, but cord-cutters will now be able to check out the premium cable channel's programming without a cable subscription.
New seasons of Showtime series like Billions, Dice and Ray Donovan will for the first time become available via a subscription to local SVOD service CraveTV, which is owned and run by media giant Bell Media. The broadband-only Showtime offering also will be available north of the border at a substantial discount.
Americans pay a $10.99 monthly fee for Showtime's stand-alone OTT offering, while Canadians will be able to stream Showtime programming via a CAN$7.99 ($5.99) a month subscription to CraveTV.
The CraveTV streaming service also includes the HBO library, which Bell Media earlier secured via a separate exclusive programming deal. Getting Showtime to Canadian cord-cutters via the CraveTV streaming service aims to help Bell Media fend off increasing competition from Netflix Canada and Amazon, which is set to launch shortly in Canada as another local streamer, Shomi, shuts down.
"We did take CraveTV over the top. And if we're going to play in that space, we're going to play to win," Tracey Pearce, president of distribution and pay at Bell Media, told the Hollywood Reporter about launching Showtime in a first-window to give her media group an edge over U.S. rivals.
Showtime, which is owned by CBS Corp., until now has seen current series premiere in Canada on Bell Media's The Movie Network pay TV service day-and-date with their U.S. debut. Showtime series then have gone to CraveTV after their seasons conclude for catch-up viewing.
Now upcoming Showtime series, starting with The Affair on Nov. 20, will premiere on both CraveTV and The Movie Network. And for the first time, Showtime fare will become available to Canadians without a pay TV subscription, if viewers want to only stream David Lynch's Twin Peaks, Jim Carrey's I'm Dying Up Here and limited series Guerilla.
Showtime series, specials and documentaries will be part of CraveTV via a Showtime-branded collection, alongside hundreds of hours of Showtime library content. CraveTV also will add to its Showtime library in 2017 with all seasons of titles such as Californication, Dexter and House of Lies.