HBO is no longer the only premium pay-TV channel to venture outside the bundle. It now has competition from Showtime, which also lets you subscribe without tying you to an expensive package from a third-party service provider.
Showtime's streaming service costs $11 per month and is available on Apple devices and Roku media streamers. PlayStation users can also get Showtime through Sony's PlayStation Vue TV service, and subscribers to Hulu's $8-per-month streaming-video service can add Showtime for an extra $9 per month.
Much like HBO Now, Showtime's new service has some caveats, restrictions, and other fine-print details. Here's a full rundown on how it works:
The content's all there and ad free
Showtime's streaming service offers live feeds of both the east- and west-coast channels (no matter where you live), along with a substantial back catalog of on-demand video. That includes original series such as Homeland and Dexter, movies, comedy specials, sports programming, documentaries, and "after hours" material. Showtime says there are no blackouts of any kind, and all on-demand programming should appear at the same time that it airs on TV.
You need a supported device to sign up...
Instead of handling sign-ups and billing directly, Showtime is passing those duties on to Apple and Roku. That means you need an Apple TV, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Roku media streamer to sign up for Showtime's standalone service. (We'll get to the Hulu and PlayStation versions shortly.) Likewise, if you want to cancel the service, you must do so through either Roku or Apple, depending on which provider you signed up with.
... But you don't need that device to watch
Once you have a standalone Showtime subscription, you can watch on any device where the Showtime app is available. For now, that includes Apple devices, Roku players, and Showtime.com on any laptop or desktop computer.
PlayStation subscriptions work a little differently
If you have a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4, you can get Showtime through Sony's PlayStation Vue app (with no need for Vue's expensive channel bundles). And if you subscribe to Sony's $60-per-year PlayStation Plus gaming service, the price of Showtime drops to $9 per month.
Subscribing through the PlayStation, however, does not grant access to Showtime's Apple apps, Roku channel, or website. Aside from PlayStation consoles, the only other way to watch is through the PlayStation Vue iPad app.
Hulu subscriptions work a lot differently
In lieu of an Apple device, Roku player, or PlayStation console, your last option is Hulu, which now sells Showtime as a $9-per-month add-on to its $8-per-month premium service. Instead of using Showtime's own apps, you access all content through Hulu. (Don't worry; Showtime's programming doesn't have any commercials, unlike most other Hulu content.)
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