Showtime: Don’t show them the money

By Steve Outing

My teen daughter got seriously hooked on the Showtime TV series Dexter, which is about a “noble” serial killer who works as a police forensics expert. A few months ago a friend at her boarding school loaned her the season 1 DVD and it quickly became her favorite show. She told me how great the show is, and, well, I had to check it out myself. It did feel a bit odd that my teenager was so in love with a show where the hero is a serial killer, so naturally I needed to investigate!

We don’t get Showtime (a premium cable channel) at home, so I watched the pilot episode as an iTunes download. OK, daughter No. 1 was on to something. I quickly got hooked on Dexter; it may be the best and most entertaining TV show I’ve ever gotten hooked on (and that includes The Sopranos). I absolutely love this show!

OK, so watching seasons 1 and 2 I could do legitimately, using either iTunes or Amazon Video On Demand (formerly Unbox). There are a few other paid online options.

Now Showtime is almost finished with season 3. I’ve watched episodes 1-11, and can’t wait for the season finale next week. Of course, in order to watch those episodes, I’ve had to use a site that posts free video streams of the shows. No commercials. I doubt Showtime approves, but it’s not hard to find free viewing of all the Dexter season 3 episodes.

So I ask you, how stupid is it that Showtime won’t put the current season on iTunes, Amazon Video On Demand, Blockbuster Online, et al? I’m addicted to the show. So are lots of other viewers. I’d gladly pay for season 3 episodes, but Showtime apparently won’t put them online for purchase/rental until season 3 is over. Wow, is that ever dumb.

I suppose the logic is that Dexter fans will not want to wait so they’ll add Showtime as a premium channel to their cable accounts. But that’s old thinking, for lots of us. I dumped our HBO premium account a while ago; I still watch my favorite HBO shows, but on-demand. That typically saves money over the regular monthly fee I used to pay. And I won’t add Showtime. I’ll watch its shows on-demand, either on my TiVo via Amazon Video On Demand, or sometimes on my laptop with iTunes. (And every once in a while I’ll drive to the local Blockbuster Video store and rent a DVD.)

Showtime is leaving money on the table by delaying putting its shows online right away. Old-media thinking strikes again. When will they learn?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!