Stream Showtime Anytime on Roku--Unless You're a DISH Subscriber

Showtime Anytime is now available as a channel on Roku. Showtime subscribers can stream Shameless, House of Lies, other original Showtime series, and movies currently playing on the Showtime channel, to their Roku box or Roku dongle. Excited that I might finally be able to stream Homeland, I rushed to add the channel to my Roku stick, only to find that DISH is still not included in the list of providers. In order to stream Showtime, users must provide evidence that they subscribe to the premium channel from their TV provider by linking to their cable, satellite or Telco account. While I subscribe to the Showtime channel on DISH, there is no option to link to my account.

There are relatively few options of TV providers and almost no small local cable companies listed. When I contacted Roku about the omission of DISH as an authentication source, a spokesperson replied in an email, “In order for a TVE (TV Everywhere) channel to be authenticated by a Pay TV service operator, the programmer (channel owner) needs to have an authentication deal in place with the service operator. These deals are typically put in place as part of a broader renewal package. Assuming the authentication deal is in place, authentication may still be at the discretion of the operator. We can't comment on the status of DISH's deal with Showtime or their rationale for why they haven't authenticated it on Roku.”

It’s not surprising that DISH is the one major TV provider missing from the authentication list. Showtime Networks is a division of CBS, and there has been bad blood between CBS and DISH for many years. As far back as the 1990s, when DISH first launched, I remember questions about whether DISH would carry CBS. In 1998 CBS (and other networks) brought a case against DISH for offering TV stations from outside of a subscriber's local area. Ultimately, in 2004, the court sided with CBS and DISH was limited to offering only the broadcast channels available in the subscriber’s market.

The timing of that decision coincided with the end of DISH’s contract with CBS’s parent company, Viacom. Negotiations didn’t go smoothly. DISH claimed that Viacom/CBS was trying to force DISH into carrying channels at an unfair price that included rate increases up to 40 percent over the length of the contract. In early March 2004, Viacom pulled all of its channels from DISH. DISH subscribers were at risk of missing the popular March Madness college basketball tournament.

Last year proved to be a low point in the relationship between CBS and DISH. The commercial-skipping AutoHop feature of the DISH Hopper (receiver and DVR) brought lawsuits from all broadcast networks. CBS took it a step further than the other networks, who had lost their lawsuits against DISH. When CNET (owned by CBS Interactive) awarded the DISH Hopper a 2013 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Innovation award for the AutoHop feature, CBS vetoed the award. While this showed a lack of journalistic integrity, it was understandable that CBS wouldn’t want to award DISH for a feature that was the subject of its litigation.

Following the award veto, another incident underscored the fight between CBS and DISH. Kaley Cuoco, star of CBS’s Big Bang Theory tweeted an endorsement for the Hopper. CBS ordered Cuoco to remove the tweet and accusations started flying.

DISH president and CEO Joe Clayton said “It’s disappointing that CBS—once the exemplar of editorial independence and innovation—continues to use its heavy hand to hold back progress from consumers.” CBS counter-attacked with name-calling: “Once again, Joe Clayton demonstrates his dubious gift for hyperbole and hucksterism. No demands were made, but it’s clear that Dish’s culture of fabrication is alive and well.”

CBS lost the lawsuit, and DISH’s commercial skip feature remains active. I enjoy automatically skipping commercials when I watch a TV show the day after it has aired. Still, I’m not holding my breath that I will be able to stream Showtime anytime soon. There’s no sign of CBS and DISH playing nice in the near future. Unless I change providers, I will have to stream Homeland on Vudu or another streaming service.

For now, I’ll watch CBS shows on the network website and pick up the occasional free episode of Showtime shows. Better yet, I’ll forgo Showtime and stick with watching HBO Go and NBC, which includes DISH subscribers in authentication of their streaming apps.

mailiang's picture

I don't believe that DIRECTV has the Roku option either, since they do not offer HBO GO on Roku. This is because they offer their own VOD offerings from these networks on their Website, which is available for streaming on their receivers and DVR's.

mailiang's picture

I stand corrected . DIRECTV does offer Showtime on Roku, but not HBO Go. They also don't offer Fox On Demand which was added to the Roku player last year.

GFelizardo's picture

DirecTV now authorizes Hbogo on Roku, maybe they are trying to stay competitive. It is making me consider them.