Showtime will now allow subscribers to download its programming for offline viewing on mobile devices – following similar moves by Netflix and Amazon. The network says its entire library will be supported, including the full seasons of its top shows like Homeland, Billions, Ray Donovan, Shameless, The Affair, Weeds, Dexter and others.
The new feature will be supported both on its Showtime app for authenticated pay TV subscribers as well as on its standalone streaming service, Showtime Anytime. The streaming service is $10.99 per month and does not require a pay TV subscription.
Similar to Netflix and Amazon’s earlier announcements, the goal with offering downloads is to enable offline viewing – something that’s especially helpful when traveling, or when you’re in an area where a cell signal or internet connection is not readily available, or is weak. Air travel is a primary use case, as planes may or may not offer Wi-Fi – and when they do, they tend to charge for it and generally limit streaming services because of the bandwidth required.
Offline viewing can also appeal to commuters, who don’t have access to a signal while on underground trains, plus those traveling through more rural or isolated areas where signals are weaker, or those traveling outside the country, where data is a concern.
The new feature will be supported on all major mobile platforms, Showtime says, including iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android (phones and tablets) and Amazon Fire tablets.
To download the content, subscribers will first need to update their apps to the new versions, then tap the “download” button that appears on a program’s detail page.
Additionally, mobile users will be able to select their video quality for these downloads, which can be helpful in terms of storage space concerns. At launch, smartphone users can pick from standard definition (540p) or high definition (720p), while tablet users will have the additional option for the higher definition of 1080p.
Once the download begins, you can immediately start watching, even if the download hasn’t completed. Later, when viewing the remainder of the show offline, it will pick up where you left off previously.
All the downloads are available in the apps by tapping on the new “Download List” icon from the top navigation bar.
The advantage to Showtime’s implementation, is that its entire library is available for download at launch, including its own shows, as well as documentaries, sports, and movies. This leads to a less complicated experience for users, compared with Netflix and Amazon’s offerings.
Because of their larger catalogs and complex rights deals with content owners, Netflix and Amazon only been able to enable some of their programming for download – largely it’s their own original programming that’s available today. Its great, of course, to have the option to download content at all on these services, but it can be confusing for users who don’t understand why the download option appears in some places, but not others.
The addition also puts Showtime ahead of rival premium network HBO, which today does not offer downloads on either the HBO GO or HBO NOW application.
Showtime’s download feature is live starting today, after first updating the Showtime or Showtime Anytime mobile apps.