"It's not TV. It's HBO."
For years, that's been the party line at Time Warner
"It's not HBO. It's Showtime."
With The Sopranos just one last gasp from cancellation, and worthy replacements Deadwood and Rome being given the back of HBO's corporate hand as well, the network has been doing a fine job of shooting itself in the foot already. The last thing it needed was for Showtime to give viewers a reason to switch loyalties. But now that the CBS
Like an ordinary network broadcast miniseries, Showtime intends to broadcast Sleeper Cell: American Terror in eight episodes airing on consecutive days. But subscribers to DirecTV
That's a blunder?
Indeed it is. Granted, it's also another mark of Showtime's brilliance. The network's bow to viewers' desire for immediate gratification sets a new level of customer service in the television industry. Meanwhile, Showtime gets to highlight the advantages video-on-demand has over, say, Netflix's
Still, from a pure, rapacious capitalist perspective, I have to point out Showtime's blunder here: In offering this unique service, the company's giving away something it could easily charge to provide. Amazon.com charges extra for next-day shipping of purchases. FedEx gets a premium for overnight delivery. Heck, even the post office is in on the immediate-gratification-for-a-price game. Simply put, by not charging for the privilege of gorging on eight hours of primo television right out of the gate, Showtime (and CBS) is leaving money on the table.
Not that this Fool is complaining.
For more on the premium cable channel wars, read: