Showtime Launches Free Sampler Channel

If you can live with ads, you can watch a selection of premium Showtime shows at no cost.


Showtime will be rolling out Showtime Selects, a new free ad-supported channel that offers a sampling platter of content available for $11 a month. Among the 250 hours that will be made available on Tuesday are Your Honor starring Bryan Cranston and the 11th and final season of Shameless, according to Variety. Additionally, there will be select episodes of The Affair, Ray Donovan, Billions, The L Word, and Californication for you to watch. New content will be added monthly.

Showtime Selects ads will run before and after shows so as not to interrupt content. "It's still a lovely premium experience, which was really important for us," says Michael Engleman, Showtime's chief marketing officer.

There are so many streaming platforms and programs on each of them to keep track of that luring thrifty customers in with a trial-period taste of what's on offer is a savvy move. Showtime is not alone in this gambit, but it's also no longer an assumed standard among platforms: For example, HBO Max offers a free trial period, whereas Netflix quietly sunset its in favor of a new (though somewhat limited) "watch free" standalone site.

Out of the gate, however, Showtime is indicating they won't be changing up this strategy any time soon--which makes sense, given that they're literally launching it Tuesday.

"We can handpick content from Showtime to reach a whole new audience," said Engleman. "Our mission… is to provide a pathway to upgrade to subscriptions… We'd like to run it to run indefinitely."

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