Showtime streaming service will launch in early July

Showtime over-the-top service will be available in July

Premium cable network Showtime will be available as a standalone Internet streaming service starting in early July.

The exact date was not revealed in the Wednesday announcement of the service, but Showtime said it will coincide with the July 12 season premieres of its returning series "Ray Donovan" and "Masters of Sex."

The service, which will simply be called Showtime, is making its debut on Apple devices and will cost $10.99 a month - $4 less than leading competitor HBO's streaming service called HBO Now.

Showtime will be available at launch on Apple devices, but the company will not have any period of exclusivity, according to Showtime Chief Executive Officer Matt Blank.

"We plan to have more announcements in the coming weeks," he said.

The "over-the-top" version of Showtime, which throughout its 39-year history has only been available through cable systems and satellite TV providers, has been in the works for months. Leading premium cable network HBO launched its own streaming service, HBO Now, in April.

Showtime is being offered at a lower price than HBO Now, most likely because the channel's wholesale price to cable and satellite operators is less than what HBO charges.

Blank said discussions with cable and satellite operators regarding the over-the-top service has gone on for some time, leaving them fully briefed on the company's plans. While the service gives consumers to opportunity to have Showtime's programming without a cable subscription, it will make broadband Internet service - which many cable operators also provide - more enticing.

Showtime is has subscribers in 24 million homes. Blank did not offer a projection on how many subscribers are expected to buy the streaming service, but noted that "there is a lot of opportunity here."

Showtime parent CBS Corp. already has experience with an over-the-top streaming channel, CBS All Access, which offers most of the broadcast network's content to users for $6.99 a month. CBS Corp. Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves has touted the company's ability to generate more revenue from its content on digital platforms. The over-the-top version of Showtime is the latest iteration of that strategy.

"Going over-the-top means Showtime will be much more accessible to tens of millions of potential new subscribers," Moonves said in a statement. "Across CBS, we are constantly finding new ways to monetize our programming."

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