Originally Posted by Jason Merrick
What's currently the best format for streaming Showtime? Are there any available 4k and/or HDR options?
As others have stated, Showtime isn't available from anyone in UHD (4K) or HDR, despite the fact that at least some of their shows have been filmed and mastered in UHD, such as Masters of Sex
. Hopefully we'll see them offer a UHD version of their service now that they're competing as a streaming service against Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. My guess is that the biggest hold-up is that cable systems just aren't ready to offer UHD channels yet and Showtime relies on those partners to reach the bulk of their subscribers. If Showtime offered UHD content in their standalone streaming service before cable systems could also accommodate it, it probably wouldn't go down well.
But to answer your question, here's what I've found as to the quality of various streaming options for Showtime. HD picture quality (1080p) is best if you're getting Showtime as an add-on to your Amazon Prime Video subscription through the Amazon app*. It also has DD 5.1 surround sound. Unfortunately, though, you can't access the live Showtime channels through the app, only via Amazon's website on a computer.
Next after Amazon, I'd say the HD picture quality looks pretty much the same whether you're subscribing through the standalone Showtime app or as an add-on to Hulu in their app. The Showtime app is better, though, in that it has the live channel (both east and west coast feeds) right in the app; if you get Showtime through Hulu, you have to go to their website to view the live Showtime channel. I think the Showtime app may also offer DD 5.1 sound on some devices, while Hulu only offers stereo sound for all content.
You can also subscribe to Showtime through the PS Vue app. Unlike the three sources above, I've never tried it via PS Vue, so I can't directly comment on their HD picture quality. I believe all PS Vue content is delivered in 720p, so I wouldn't expect it to be as good a source as Amazon.
Overall, I've found HD picture quality from any of those sources to equal or exceed what I got back when I subscribed by satellite. (HBO, on the other hand, has really inferior HD picture quality from their streaming services HBO Now and HBO Go. I'd much rather watch HBO on satellite or cable.)
*I've found that if you're using the Amazon Video app on a device that can decode HEVC content (such as a smart UHD TV, the Fire TV Box 2, the Fire TV Stick 2, or new Rokus that can do UHD), Amazon will send Showtime streams to your device encoded in the more efficient HEVC codec. Unfortunately, the picture quality is actually worse, more compressed. It's still probably slightly better than from Hulu or the Showtime app. But it looks best from Amazon on older devices that can't handle HEVC!