CBS’s Showtime May Follow HBO in Offering Network Online

CBS Corp.’s Showtime, the premium cable network that carries “Homeland,” is considering following rival HBO in offering its programs online to viewers who aren’t pay-TV customers.

“We are always looking at ways of expanding our audience and it is certainly something that we have been examining for some time,” Showtime said today in an e-mailed statement. “The subscription model is ideally positioned to take advantage of developing technologies in the consumer marketplace.”

HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc., roiled the industry today by saying it plans to offer a Web-based service in the U.S. next year that won’t require a cable or satellite TV subscription. Showtime would also seek customers outside the pay-TV package, putting the network in direct competition with services like Netflix Inc.

CBS, based in New York, fell 0.3 percent to $49.80 at 2:40 p.m. Through yesterday, the shares had fallen 22 percent this year.

Showtime said last month that it may offer international consumers direct access online. HBO has done so in the Nordic countries, where Netflix also competes.

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