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Showtime's Direct-to-Consumer Bombshell

It was only a matter of time before the major U.S. 'premium' pay-TV networks would break free of their traditional distribution partners, and offer services directly to mainstream consumers via over-the-top broadband delivery. Well, that time has come. The first bombshell has apparently been dropped.

SHOWTIME Networks Inc. and ExtendMedia will showcase the world's first consumer video download-to-own service designed for Microsoft Windows Vista technology. Visitors to the Microsoft Windows Vista booth at CES in Las Vegas next week can view a pilot of what SHOWTIME and Extend are creating.

Using the service, which is scheduled to be launched in late January, consumers will be able to download episodes from groundbreaking Showtime Original Series such as Weeds, The L Word, Sleeper Cell and more from the Web -- and play them on their home PC, or transfer them to a portable player for viewing on the go.

The SHOWTIME-Extend service showcases the power and usability made possible by Windows Vista for consuming digital media content. Since Windows Vista comes packaged with Microsoft's Media Center Edition capabilities, Vista PCs potentially become the hub of the home digital entertainment center.

With fast, user-friendly click-to-download offerings, SHOWTIME's work highlights its position as a programming and technology innovator. ExtendMedia's OpenCASE software handles the video content download in the service with a Vista-compliant application, and gives SHOWTIME flexibility and control in monetizing its direct-to-consumer business.

SHOWTIME and ExtendMedia are demonstrating the new service in Microsoft's Windows Vista Booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center's Central Plaza, booth # CP9. SHOWTIME Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL and FLIX.

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