NBC & Showtime - You’re Streaming It Wrong

During my TV transition week going from cable to internet only I’ve been testing a lot of apps and services. I can honestly say Hulu is pretty great.

I can also say that some networks just don’t get it. I’m looking at you CBS and FX. CBS only allows viewing though a browser - and no, airplay is not supported. FX requires a cable subscription - lame.

But honestly, NBC and Showtime have me the most confused. During my overlap I still had my cable subscription but wanted to try Showtime’s iPad app to watch content via Airplay and AppleTV. Except, for some unknown reason, Showtime doesn’t allow Airplay or even AirPlay mirroring. Now, why would a network who’s content you’re already paying a premium for and obviously wants you to watch their content via their mobile apps, purposefully restrict you from viewing it on your TV?

And NBC is an odd one too. They have a beautiful iOS app that allows full episode streaming and AirPlay (albeit the lame AirPlay mirror function), but for some reason, they restrict certain shows on Hulu to Desktop only. Yep. If you want to watch Hannibal on NBC, you can choose to watch it through your iOS device or via AirPlay mirror on your TV for free, but if you’d like to use a paying service like Hulu, you’ll be restricted to desktop only. You can’t use the AppleTV’s HuluPlus app. Color me confused.

I know streaming video is a bit of a wild west right now and networks are scrambling to figure out the right amount of access combined with the right amount of fees, but this is crazy. HBO is still the only sane one in the market. Pay for their service and you can watch all their content, anywhere at anytime.

PBS is moving in the right direction, but contracts and money still play a large roll in determining what content is allowed to stream and for how long. PBS has apps for XBOX, Roku, and AppleTV along with iOS apps (iPhone & iPad), which makes PBS’ content extremely accessible. We also know there are some holes in that list that we’re working like crazy to plug. But sometimes, I wish we could simply pick a direction and go all-in.

UPDATE 8/26/14 - Showtime released an AppleTV app today that should fix the issue.

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