Hulu to distribute Showtime's standalone service at 20% discount

Hulu will begin offering Showtime's new stand-alone streaming service for $8.99 a month, a 20 percent discount from the standard price, starting ahead of the July 12 premiere of Showtime signature series Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex.

SVOD services have typically competed more with premium cable programmers rather than serving as distributors--the latter has always been the job of pay-TV operators. Netflix, for example, has long identified HBO as its top competitor.

Hulu is reportedly underwriting each Showtime user on its service to the tune of $2 a head, with the company anxious to compete in an increasingly competitive SVOD market. The service has already committed hundreds of millions of dollars to developing new original series. 

Hulu offers its SVOD service for  $7.99, bringing a total monthly bill for Hulu with Showtime to about $17 a month. Hulu says that 7 million of its 9 million users are also pay-TV subscribers. 

Showtime had already announced that it would sell its new a la carte service through Sony's PlayStation Vue service. But that service has only launched in a handful of markets.

"Hulu is an important launch partner for Showtime as we continue to expand our service across new platforms and distributors, reaching new consumers wherever a broadband connection is available," said Matthew Blank, chairman and CEO of Showtime. 

Added Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins: "The robust slate of Showtime original programming, movies, and specials together with Hulu's strength in current season programming, library acquisitions and original programming makes a powerful combination."

For more:
- read this joint release from Showtime and Hulu
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this Re/code story

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