HBO vs Showtime: Who has the better content in 2021?

The streaming battle is always on, and it has gotten a lot more intense in the last year alone as there are many options available to consumers. In addition to dedicated OTT platforms like Netflix and Prime Video, we’ve also seen the rebirth of premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime as standalone streaming apps. 

Let’s find out how these dedicated channels face off in a comparison battle. It’s time for HBO vs Showtime comparison as we pit them against each other on several different features. 

HBO vs Showtime

HBO took the digital route for the first time in 2008 with HBO for Broadband. To watch, you needed an HBO subscription as well as a cable TV connection through Time Warner’s Roadrunner broadband service. 

In 2010, HBO dropped the Roadrunner restriction and offered a countrywide expansion while still enabling customers to watch through any cable TV provider with the launch of HBO GO. HBO Go only worked with cable TV providers supporting HBO subscriptions. Later in 2014, HBO launched HBO NOW — a standalone subscription service similar to Netflix — catering to cord-cutters. 

But HBO did not stop at HBO NOW. In 2020, the company launched HBO Max, a streaming extravaganza combining content from several platforms. This contains Max Originals, DC Universe-only material, as well as classic and current network TV series. 

Believe it or not, HBO used to run all three of its streaming services simultaneously. The company later realized subscribers were overwhelmed with an overdose of different services. The three services confused subscribers (and writers like us) about HBO’s streaming and cable TV ecosystem. 

As a result, WarnerMedia made the much-needed decision to clear out the confusion by discontinuing HBO Go and rebranding HBO Now as HBO. 

In a nutshell, HBO Max is a service offered through Spectrum, DirecTV, Apple, Google, and Samsung. HBO (formerly HBO Now) is a standalone on-demand subscription service that does not require membership to the HBO channel on your cable TV. 

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of HBO: 

HBO Pros 

  • Premium original shows
  • Ad-free
  • Exemplary interface and performance

HBO Cons

  • Not affordable
  • Lacks support HDR or 4K content
  • Lacks offline viewing 
  • Problems with simultaneous streams on one account

Showtime is an American premium cable network with an entourage of channels and a dedicated streaming service. 

Established in 1976 by ViacomCBS, Showtime is a 24-hour premium cable TV channel that primarily rivals the likes of HBO. It champions streaming content like live concerts, and exclusive Hollywood live content like Award shows alongside licensed content, including premium shows and movies.

Even though Showtime was already a well-known cable brand before streaming services became popular, the firm has swiftly evolved. It now offers certain content to those who only have access to the internet. 

Showtime is a standalone streaming service for those who don’t mind missing out on the Showtime cable channels. With it, you can watch everything available on the cable channel, as you prefer.  

If you have a cable subscription or use an on-demand streaming provider, Showtime Anytime is the streaming app to help you get the most out of your membership. Subscribers get unlimited access to Showtime programming on any device of their choosing with Showtime Anytime, which is included free with their subscription.

Showtime Pros 

  • Satisfactory lineup of original TV shows
  • Offline downloads
  • Live Showtime channels

Showtime Cons

  • Not Affordable
  • Limited content library
  • Offline downloads restricted to 720p resolution

HBO vs Showtime: Which is Best?

Choosing a premium channel or a standalone streaming service could be a daunting task as you want to measure every aspect and make a sound choice. Your basic comparison heavily relies on the type of content offered by the service, access methods, pricing, and more. We will guide you through our HBO vs Showtime comparison point-by-point. 

HBO: Content Lineup, Quality, Quantity 

The HBO app features the same content as HBO Now. However, it does not require a cable subscription. Users get access to shows like True Detective, The Wire, and The Big Little Lies alongside documentaries like McMillions and films and shows like The LEGO Movie and Apocalypse Now. Except for HBO reality series, you can simultaneously stream the content as it airs on TV. One must note that the HBO app does not offer access to live TV.

HBO’s shows have always influenced cultural discourse. It all started with the premiere of “The Sopranos” in 1999 and ended with the conclusion of “Game of Thrones” in 2019 (HBO’s greatest TV show, ignoring the last two seasons, duh). HBO has a well-deserved reputation for putting out some of the most entertaining content on television. 

You can count on HBO for high-quality, original material. Even IMDb and critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave HBO’s original programming a better than average grade. 

Subscribers can stream several original series such as Euphoria, Barry, Westworld, Succession, and more on the HBO app. However, other originals like Dune and The Flight Attendant require a subscription to HBO Max.

Let’s breakdown HBO’s content library below:

  • HBO has a movie library containing around 926 movies, including 32 high-quality movies with IMDb ratings above 7.5
  • HBO has around 189 total available shows, including 43 high-quality shows with IMDb ratings above 7.5

Showtime: Content Lineup, Quality, Quantity 

You can stream Showtime or Showtime Anywhere services. Showtime is an online streaming service that doesn’t necessitate a cable service.  Showtime Anywhere can be accessed by cable subscribers as a streaming service. Both Showtime and Showtime Anywhere offer the same content. 

Showtime’s collection of films includes it all, from Academy Award winners to cult classics. It isn’t easy to choose just one of the many great films that have been out in recent years. Around 78 shows and over 500 films are available on Showtime’s website at any given moment. 

There are several popular original shows on Showtime, such as Kidding, The L Word: Generation Q; Billions; Homeland; Ray Donovan; and Shameless. Dexter, Californication, Nurse Jackie, Penn & Teller: Bullshit, Stargate SG-1, Penny Dreadful, and Weeds are among the favorites on the list. Reality TV buffs will appreciate shows like Twin Peaks, Big Brother After Dark, a spin-off of the iconic CBS series.

With a Showtime membership, you can watch live broadcasts of your favorite shows as they are being aired. Boxing fights and certain pay-per-view events fall under this category. Although Showtime does not cover every sport under its umbrella, the network’s sports programming remains robust, with series like Below the Belt with Brendan Schaub, 100 Percent: Julian Edelman, Shut Up And Dribble, and others.

Showtime’s library could use some upgrading; there aren’t many well-known children’s series and movies to choose from. The Babysitters Club, Charlotte’s Web, Barnyard, RV, School of Rock, and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World are among the films in this category. Kids’ shows are lacking, and the Family section has just a small number of films.

Let’s breakdown Showtime’s content library below:

  • Showtime has a movie library containing around 489 movies, including 32 high-quality movies with IMDb ratings above 7.5
  • Showtime has around 70 total available shows, including 12 high-quality shows with IMDb ratings above 7.5

HBO vs Showtime: Standout Features of HBO

Although costly, HBO offers a decent selection of movies and TV series because of the premium cable network’s history of prioritizing substance over style, especially for Sunday night programming. 

Check out some of the best features of the HBO app below.

Quality Content

HBO’s streaming service is particularly appealing because of its extensive library of original shows and other material that you can only find on HBO. Enjoy access to series like Watchmen and Westworld, which are now running, as well as old favorites like The Sopranos. The HBO streaming service releases new movies and episodes of HBO programs every week to ensure you get an ample dose of content. 

Multi-device support

If you are using your home Wi-Fi network, you may watch HBO NOW on three devices concurrently. The app will notify you if your account runs on more than three devices at once.   

Parental Controls

Parental controls allow parents to restrict the latest releases from your kids. There are some workarounds for blocking classic shows, but parents can also do that manually for every program. 

HBO vs Showtime: Standout Features of Showtime

Showtime also offers a wide selection of excellent films and television programs. If you enjoy Showtime’s original programming, the service is a perfect addition to your arsenal of streaming apps. If not, there are better alternatives available on the market.

Offline Storage and Multi-device support

Unlike Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, Showtime doesn’t have a DVR storage option, but you can download content in the app for offline viewing. Showtime allows you to log in with up to five different devices at once. This comes in handy for family subscribers.

Parental Controls

You may set separate parental restrictions for each Showtime account in the Showtime app. This is critical since the catalog includes mature and graphic content that children should not view. You can select your preferred maturity level by clicking on Viewing Preferences in the app settings. 

HBO: Pricing & Device Compatibility 

The HBO app costs $15 a month to subscribe as a standalone streaming service. As with other popular streaming services like Netflix, you won’t need a cable or satellite TV provider to use it. If you have a cable subscription that automatically upgrades you to HBO Max, you can also access HBO Max on the HBO app. 

Device compatibility

HBO app is compatible with the following devices, browsers, and consoles:

  • Amazon Fire TV & Fire tablets 
  • Android phones and tablets
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 11, Microsoft Edge and Safari
  • Google Chromecast
  • Apple iPhone/iPad/iPod touch
  • PlayStation 4
  • Roku
  • Xbox One

Honestly, Warner Bros have messed up the branding for their streaming service. HBO Max is sufficient as a service, and users don’t need the standalone HBO app. But as it exists, there lies a choice between HBO Max and HBO app, both costing the same. 

HBO intended HBO Max to be a free update for current HBO Now subscribers. If you were subscribed to HBO Now, then you have already upgraded to HBO Max. However, in some cases, the upgrade depended on cable TV or network providers. Check the list of compatible network providers who upgrade HBO Now to HBO Max automatically. The login credentials remain the same. 

Here’s the list of cable, satellite, or streaming companies that have partnered with HBO to offer a free upgrade to HBO Max for HBO Now users:

  • Altice One
  • Atlantic Broadband
  • Apple TV Channels
  • AT&T/AT&T U-verse
  • AT&T TV Now (formerly DirectTV)
  • Cox
  • Optimum
  • RCN
  • Spectrum
  • Suddenlink
  • Verizon Fios
  • WOW!
  • Xfinity

HBO app, formerly known as HBO Now, does not provide the same range of content as HBO MAX. So, what’s the point of settling for less while paying the same price? So do yourself a favor and get HBO Max instead. 

Showtime: Pricing & Device Compatibility 

Showtime has a monthly subscription charge of $10.99, but the yearly membership saves you money, costing $99 per year. New members can take advantage of a 30-day free trial, but they must include a payment method when signing up. The Showtime channel may also be accessed through a live TV provider such as fuboTV or Sling TV. Showtime is available as an add-on to Prime Video as well. 

Considering the limited selection of content available, Showtime is prohibitively expensive. Hulu’s ad-supported subscription starts at $5.99 per month, while Prime Video costs $8.99 per month. 

Device compatibility

Here are the devices, browsers, and consoles that are compatible with Showtime:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Apple TV
  • Android TV
  • LG Smart TV
  • Samsung Smart TV (2015+)
  • Sony Smart TV
  • VIZIO Smart TV (2016+)
  • Google Chromecast (Google Cast)
  • Roku
  • Apple iPhone/iPad (9.0+)
  • Android Phone/Tablet (4.4+)
  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Xbox

There are many reasons to use Showtime, but it’s not worth the money spent every month for most people. Watch original episodes and movies whenever you want with Showtime’s on-demand service. You can also watch the Showtime cable channels live online. However, the site places needless limits on offline downloading and could make its accessibility features more user-friendly and universally accessible. Take into account subscribing to Showtime for a month or two if you plan to binge some episodes. Netflix and Hulu are better alternatives.

Conclusion

Both HBO and Showtime are excellent services for those who love network series and only watch them instead of dabbling into a new array of content produced by leading streaming services like Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu. However, if you are not into network-bound shows, think twice before spending money on HBO and Showtime. They cost more than other streaming services and have a comparatively limited content library. 

We hope this comparison helps settle the HBO vs Showtime debate. Let us know in the comments.

About Melissa

Hey! I'm Mel, I write the occasional article for Spacehop, amongst other things. I love meeting new people and chatting, so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

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