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Showtime to Offer Comcast Free Samples

In a departure for a premium channel, Showtime next spring will supply Comcast Corp. with some of its series, such as Dead Like Me,for the MSO’s free-video-on-demandservice, officials said.

Currently, only Comcast digital customers who subscribe to Showtime have access to the premium network’s programming on-demand, in the form of Showtime On Demand.

But starting next year, Showtime will provide some of its shows on-demand even to Comcast digital homes that aren’t Showtime subscribers.

“In our continuing effort to support our clients and their needs, Showtime will be providing Comcast with original library product -- such as the first seasons of such popular series as Dead Like Me and Soul Food --for Comcast to offer their digital subscribers on a free-on-demand basis,” a Showtime spokeswoman said.

The idea is to expose non-Showtime subscribers to the programming in the hopes that they will like it and sign up for the premium service.

“Showtime is going to experiment with some of their best series and make them available to non-Showtime customers,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told Multichannel News. “What a great marketing idea to see what you’re missing by not having Showtime.”

The Showtime spokeswoman said the programming available to consumers on a free-VOD basis with Comcast will be different than what is available as part of Showtime On Demand.

“The FOD content will help Comcast customers to become more familiar with the programming Showtime has to offer,” she added.

The initiative will start in the second quarter of 2005, Showtime said, but according to Comcast a definitive kickoff date hasn’t been set.