Showtime Reaches iTunes Deal

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Non-Showtime viewers who want to see actress Mary Louise Parker in her Golden Globe Award-winning performance in Weeds can now download the Showtime original series to their “iPods” as part of a deal reached between the premium service and Apple Computer Inc.

Showtime, the first premium-cable network to offer programming to Apple’s “iTunes” platform, will make available the entire season of freshman series Weeds and Sleeper Cell, as well as Kirstie Alley-helmed Fat Actress, for a $1.99 per episode, network executives said.

“We’re going to get a learning experience about how important a revenue stream this could be for our business,” Showtime Networks Inc. chairman Matt Blank said. He would not predict how many buys the network could generate through iTunes.

Apple will not edit the network’s offerings, which feature more adult-targeted content than iTunes programming from broadcast and basic-cable networks like ABC, Disney Channel and MTV: Music Television. Each of Showtime’s iTunes offerings will carry an “explicit” disclaimer

Blank said the network may look to make other programming available to iTunes in the future, including Showtime Championship Boxing events. He added that the iTunes deal will hopefully lead to new subscriptions by exposing more people to Showtime original programming.

“We’re only in 14 million homes, so for us, it’s giving those homes that don’t have Showtime an opportunity to see our programming and generate revenue for us,” he said. “If people sample our programming and pay for it, maybe they’ll realize some value in becoming a Showtime subscriber.”

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