CBS May Offer Standalone Showtime to Non-U.S. Viewers

CBS Corp. may offer international consumers direct access to programs from its Showtime cable network, as competitor HBO has done in Nordic countries.

The broadcaster may also offer more choices to viewers in the U.S. as part of certain TV packages, Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference yesterday in Beverly Hills, California. He wasn’t specific about the products beyond expressing a desire to “make it easier for consumers to get Showtime” without also subscribing to other premium cable channels.

“Overseas we could look at making an offering like HBO Nordic,” Moonves said. “We have enough content.”

Showtime lags behind HBO by 6 million viewers, Moonves said, and has narrowed the gap in recent years as CBS has invested in original shows such as “Homeland” and “Masters of Sex.”

CBS is considering different ways of reaching consumers as companies including Dish Network Corp. and Sony Corp. race to offer cable-like Internet subscription service to reach younger audiences who aren’t signing up for traditional pay TV.

The popularity of Netflix Inc., the video streaming service, has generated speculation that Time Warner Inc.’s HBO will offer its HBO Go streaming service direct to consumers who don’t want to pay for cable. HBO and Showtime haven’t circumvented traditional cable packages in the U.S.

HBO is “seriously considering” new opportunities in online distribution in the U.S., Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said last week.

A standalone HBO service in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark, which can be bought separately from cable-TV or Internet service, has generated 380,000 subscriptions, people familiar with the matter said in July.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE