Showtime now lets subscribers download anything in its streaming app to a phone, freeing you up to watch when you're on a plane ride or suffering through zero connectivity. (Just plan in advance.)
The network is following in the footsteps of Netflix and Amazon, which offer the perk for parts of their potpourri catalog. Amazon's subscription video service has long offered downloads to subscribers, and Netflix introduced the option in November. But among traditional TV networks that also offer a digital streaming option, the feature is rare. Showtime's main rival, HBO, doesn't offer downloads; smaller premium cable networks like Starz and Epix do.
(Editor's note: Showtime is owned by CBS, the parent company of CNET.)
Tom Christie, Showtime's chief operating officer, said the offering was high on the list of subscribers' most-requested features, and that it's something the network has been working toward for years.
"As we started to acquire rights to distribute content over the internet, it was something we knew we had to ask for," he said in an interview. "It was almost 10 years ago when this process started."
Through an update to its streaming apps, Showtime's entire library is now available for download, be it movies, documentaries, specials, sports or original series like "Billions" -- get ready for that upcoming "Twin Peaks" reboot, too.
Downloads are available to most people who pay for Showtime, whether it's through a traditional pay-TV subscription like cable or satellite, via the channel's stand-alone streaming service or by an add-on channel subscription on Hulu or Amazon.
None of Showtime's internet partners currently offers Showtime downloads in their own apps -- you have to go into the Showtime app itself to access the feature. That's not surprising, since Amazon is the only one that offers downloads, period. People with a subscription through Amazon, Hulu or Playstation Vue can log in to Showtime's app to access the feature, but those who get Showtime via Sling TV or YouTube TV, which just launched yesterday, can't.
Viewers can start watching while the program is still downloading, and if you start streaming a show decide to finish watching it with a download, the download will pick up where you left off.
Subscribers can download by tapping the (aptly named) "Download" button on the program's detail page. Phone users will see a prompt to select video quality, either standard definition (540 pixels) or high definition (720 pixels). Tablet users can also pick highest definition (1,080 pixels).
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