Cancelling your cable subscription once meant giving up your favorite programming on Showtime. That isn’t true any more thanks to Showtime’s streaming service. It lets cord-cutters watch all the programs, movies and sports on Showtime without cable.
This guide will explain why Showtime is a compelling choice for entertainment content, what devices you can watch Showtime on, and the many ways you can get Showtime.
- 1 Originals, Sports and More
- 2 Access Showtime Live and On-Demand
- 3 Subscribing to Showtime
- 4 Where to Buy
- 5 Showtime Features
- 6 Should I Get Showtime?
Originals, Sports and More
Showtime got its start as a movie channel and continues that tradition with its on-demand service. The rotating catalog of movies includes recent releases and popular films primarily from the past thirty years. Period drama The Other Boleyn Girl, bio pic Ray, cult sci-fi film Dune and the anti-drug classic Reefer Madness are just some of the films you’ll find in the catalog right now.
Showtime’s sports programming is based on its long-running relationship with professional boxing. Showtime Championship Boxing features monthly bouts between the top boxers in the world. Younger fighters get a chance to prove themselves as rising stars on ShoBox: The New Generation.
Showtime’s reputation for original content dates back to the 1980’s and 1990’s with comedies like Its Gary Shandling’s Show and science fiction originals like Stargate SG-1. More recently, Showtime brought the Twin Peaks sequel to life and has long-running hits with Homeland and Shameless.
Access Showtime Live and On-Demand
Showtime’s streaming service offers more than just on-demand content. It also lets you watch the live feed from its east coast and west coast channels, although you can’t record live programming. That’s not as big a deal for Showtime since on-demand content appears so quickly.
Movies and new episodes of scripted programming appear as on-demand options the minute they air in the eastern time zone. It may take Showtime a day to a day-and-a-half to post the video from sports events and news programming due to the extra processing live events require.
Subscribing to Showtime
Showtime is available across the United States, its territories and possessions. Once you travel outside the coverage region, Showtime detects you’re out of the country and blocks your access.
After a seven-day free trial, you get to choose between one of three subscription options: monthly, annually, or in combination with CBS All Access. The monthly plan costs $10.99. That adds up over the course of a year to more than $130 which makes subscribing to Showtime’s annual plan for $109.90 a better deal.
Showtime + CBS All Access
You can get a better discount when you subscribe to both Showtime and CBS All Access (the same company owns both networks) for a combined $14.99 per month. An upgrade to $18.99 per month eliminates all of the commercials from the CBS programming. The combination subscriptions provide a $2 monthly savings if you planned to get Showtime’s monthly plan. If you get Showtime’s annual plan, however, then the combination deal is only break-even.
Where to Buy
All of these plans are available when you subscribe through the Showtime website. You can also subscribe to the monthly and annual plans through app stores on set-top boxes, smart TVs, game consoles, mobile devices and tablets.
The best value comes when you get Showtime as an add-on to streaming services. That lets you watch Showtime’s live streams and on-demand content from inside the service provider’s web interface and apps. When you register with Showtime using your service provider’s login credentials, you also get full access to the Showtime website and apps.
Amazon Prime members get free on-demand access to thousands of movie and TV titles as part of their $99 annual subscription. Amazon lets Prime members expand their TV options by subscribing to what it calls “Channels”. These are either collections of videos curated by Amazon itself or subscriptions to third-party providers like Showtime.
After the seven-day free trial ends, Prime members pay $8.99 per month for the Showtime Channel. This may be the best value on the list since many people already have an Amazon Prime membership for the free shipping benefits.
Amazon’s video library is part of Prime’s bonus benefits. Prime membership lets you subscribe to more than just premium channels like HBO, Cinemax and Starz. Britbox, Acorn and PBS Masterpiece offer a variety of British period dramas and mysteries. Sundance Now and the Urban Movie Channel deliver movies you won’t find on mainstream TV.
Hulu’s focus has always been on streaming current-run TV shows thanks to support from its owners including ABC, Fox, NBC and TBS. Participating networks allow their latest episodes to be streamed on-demand soon after broadcast. They also make their back catalogs available for binge-watching recent and classic TV series.
Besides the $7.99 per-month subscription for on-demand programming, Hulu is beta testing a live TV streaming service called Hulu With Live TV. For $39.99 per month, you can watch live TV feeds from more than fifty channels. Both services offer upgrades for ad-free viewing as well as the ability to add subscriptions to HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.
Hulu offers an $8.99 monthly subscription to Showtime that starts after a seven-day free trial. Hulu’s service, however, is more limited than Amazon’s. You can watch Showtime’s live stream through the Hulu website, but the various Hulu apps do not support Showtime live. Hulu refers customers who want to watch Showtime on mobile or TV-connected devices to Showtime’s apps.
Even though our review dinged Sling TV for its not-quite-true claims to be an “a la carte” TV provider, the range of channels Sling TV offers makes it a good deal for people looking for an alternative to cable.
Sling TV’s $40-per-month Orange+Blue plan delivers live streams and on-demand content from fifty-three channels. The only major exception is CBS which has been slow to join third party streaming TV services. Extras packages let you further tailor your viewing around sports, kids and more. You can also subscribe to the four major premium channels: HBO, Cinemax, Starz and Showtime.
Sling TV charges more than the other services for a Showtime subscription – $10 per month – but you get a lot more for the money. Besides Showtime’s live stream, you get access to Showtime 2, Showtime Showcase, Showtime Extreme, Showtime Beyond, Showtime Next and Showtime Women. That’s a lot of Showtime for just a dollar more per month.
Sony’s streaming TV service got its start on the Sony PlayStation gaming console. PlayStation Vue is now available on a wide range of devices for mainstream subscribers. It has a strong lineup of channels, live streaming of local TV and upgrade options.
Subscriptions range from $39.99 per month to $79.99 per month and can include more than ninety channels. Subscription packs let customers add more channels devoted to sports, movies and Hispanic programming. Sony also offers add-on subscriptions to premium channels. This includes more niche channels like the martial arts focused Hi-Yah! channel and mainstream premium channels like Epix, HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime.
A Showtime subscription on PlayStation Vue costs $10.99 per month after the seven-day free trial. Owners of Sony’s game consoles who subscribe to PS Plus only have to pay $8.99 per month. Either way, PlayStation Vue grants you access to the main Showtime live stream as well as on-demand content.
Google just launched its streaming TV service in early 2017. Since then, YouTube TV has grown to become a strong alternative to cable in markets covering half the country.
For only $35 per month, YouTube TV offers live and on-demand access to fifty channels. Its strength is in its support for local TV channels. YouTube TV offers local streams of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC in most markets it serves. This is significantly better than most other streaming services. Its lineup of cable channels, however, has significant gaps including Travel Channel, Food Network, Nickelodeon, TBS and more. Premium add-ons include Shudder, Sundance Now, FOX Soccer Plus and Showtime.
The Showtime subscription on YouTube TV costs $11 per month. You can watch the network’s programming live and on-demand through the YouTube TV website and apps or through the Showtime apps.
Showtime, as mentioned above, does more than just give you access to on-demand content. You can also live stream the network’s east coast and west coast feeds to watch sports and the latest episodes at the same time as everyone else.
You will find several mobile-friendly features in the Showtime service. Resume Watching, for example, lets you pause playback on one device and resume on another.
Download and Go
The handiest feature for families heading out on vacation is the ability to download content onto smartphones and tablets for offline viewing. This is particularly useful when heading somewhere without internet service or when traveling outside Showtime’s US service area.
Families can download content to as many as five different devices and each device can hold up to fifteen titles.
You can choose the quality level of the downloads (up to 720p on smartphones and 1080p on tablets). You can also change the download path from the Wi-Fi-only default to cellular, although that will quickly eat through your wireless plan’s monthly data cap.
Licensing issues limit the number of titles in the Showtime catalog available for download. Some titles may restrict the length of time you can keep it downloaded.
Devices for Watching Showtime
Showtime maintains a wide range of apps across the most popular platforms including:
- Set-top Boxes and Streaming Sticks: Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV (NVIDIA Shield, Razer Forge TV).
- Smart TVs: Android TV (Sony Bravia, LeEco TV) and Samsung Smart TV.
- Game Consoles: Xbox One.
- Mobile and Tablet: Android, iOS and Amazon Fire Tablets.
Showtime does not specify the resolution it serves up its high-definition content, adjusting it instead to the quality of your internet connection. It recommends a 3 Megabit-per-second connection for home use and an 800 Kilobit-per-second connection for mobile use.
Should I Get Showtime?
If you’re debating between the premium TV networks, Showtime’s $110 annual plan is significantly cheaper than HBO’s $180 annual cost. With Showtime, you get downloadable content and live stream of its national broadcast. HBO offers neither of these services. On the other hand, HBO supports a wider range of devices – including PlayStation 4.
Game of Thrones fans may want to give Showtime some thought during the long wait for season 8. Showtime is adapting Patrick Rothfuss’ series of fantasy novels, The Kingkiller Chronicle, to television. Emmy Award-winning director and composer of Broadway hit Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, will executive produce the series and compose its music. No word on when it will premiere, but the same could be said of GOT’s final season.
If you subscribe to Amazon Prime or Sling TV, then upgrading to Showtime is an easy choice. You’re getting all of the other benefits of Amazon Prime already, so the Showtime add-on is not a significant expense. Sling TV’s deal to offer live stream of eight Showtime channels makes its channel lineup even more compelling.
The most interesting feature Showtime offers is the download-and-play option on tablets and smartphones. If you plan to travel and want some good movies and TV to watch, then taking advantage of the free trial and low monthly fee is something worth considering.
With a wide range of high-quality original content and an interesting set of features, Showtime offers a remarkable value for a premium TV service. As you review your streaming entertainment options, Showtime ought to be a contender.