Which premium channel should I choose?
August 25, 2010 7:22 AM   Subscribe

HBO, Cinemax or Showtime? I'm getting one movie channel with my cable company. Which one is your favorite and why? I love all movies and want lots of variety.
posted by TLCplz to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd say it's between HBO and Showtime, leaning toward HBO, based mostly on the original content/shows.
posted by Menthol at 7:26 AM on August 25, 2010

I had HBO for awhile and cancelled it a few months ago. There are long stretches where none of the original shows that I like (mostly Big Love) are playing, and their movie selections are dreadfully boring and repetitive. See if you can find their current schedules and decide which one looks more appealing.
posted by amethysts at 7:32 AM on August 25, 2010

It might help you to look at what movies they have broadcast rights to: HBO, Showtime.
posted by TedW at 7:35 AM on August 25, 2010

Don't bother with Cinemax if you're only getting one. I assume you're getting this for the original content, not the rebroadcast feature films.

HBO original series.

Showtime original series.

Considering the quality of HBO and Showtime series is roughly the same (read: usually very good) I'd go with HBO simply based on the variety.
posted by griphus at 7:37 AM on August 25, 2010

(I am making that assumption simply because if you're getting it for the movies, you're better off spending that money on a basic Netflix subscription and a set-top box.)
posted by griphus at 7:38 AM on August 25, 2010

I'd get either HBO or Showtime, as Cinemax doesn't have any original series.

Depending on what kind of movies you like (mainstream vs independent/challenging movies) you may find that both HBO and Showtime are not great. They both tend toward mass appeal movies.
posted by dfriedman at 7:41 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you like softcore porn, Skinemax errr....I mean Cinemax is a good fit for you over the other two.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:51 AM on August 25, 2010

Yes, you get these channels now for their original series, not for the movies. Pick the channel that has the shows that most appeal to you.

For movies, just get a Netflix account.
posted by eas98 at 7:58 AM on August 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

HBO used to be "it" with the best shows, now I like Showtime better. I like watching the original series they have.

On preview, what eas98 says.
posted by 6:1 at 8:03 AM on August 25, 2010

Dexter is on Showtime. True Blood is on HBO and Boardwalk Empire starts this fall. Depending on how good BE is, that might throw the balance to HBO. But Dexter is fantastic!
posted by Silvertree at 8:09 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dexter is indeed fantastic. But True Blood is insanely awesome. Nobody gossips about Dexter at work.

Also several family members really enjoy Hung.

Boardwalk Empire looks very interesting.

So... my biased opinion is for HBO.
posted by gryftir at 8:43 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

HBO. Showtime has some good series: Dexter, Californication, and Weeds come to mind, not to mention Brotherhood and the L word (which I didn't dig but my girlfriend loved), but HBO just has more and better picks. Pretty much anytime I've said "This is the best tv show I've ever seen," it's been on HBO: Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Rome, The Wire, Treme.

In fact, the decision for me would be easy, because I go where David Simon goes.
posted by yeoldefortran at 8:52 AM on August 25, 2010

HBO is also famous for producing and showing documentaries. According to this NYT article, "During [HBO documentary exec. Shiela Nevins'] tenure HBO’s documentaries have won 21 Academy Awards, 47 Emmys and 31 Peabody Awards."
posted by hhc5 at 9:01 AM on August 25, 2010

Going by the wording of your question, I am making the opposite assumption from previous posters and believe you really are looking for MOVIES.

"HBO, Cinemax or Showtime? I'm getting one movie channel with my cable company. Which one is your favorite and why? I love all movies and want lots of variety."[emphasis mine]

So, based on that, I'd say: is Starz available as a choice to you? Most cable companies give you several channels of Starz as a package for one price. HBO and Showtime, although they do show a good number of films, are really dominated by original programming nowadays. Just compare the homepages of those channels and see who is focusing on movies.
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 9:11 AM on August 25, 2010

But, yeah you really should get Netflix for movies instead
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 9:12 AM on August 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for your input everyone. Thank you JJtheJetPlane for the starz recommendation. I really am looking for movies, not series. I used to watch Dexter and Californication back when I got all the channels for free (for being nice to a service rep). But I don't want to have to follow a series and I really do enjoy sitting down and watching a good movie. I knew the netflix idea would be mentioned. I used them years and years ago when all you could do was have movies mailed to you. That doesn't work for me and I'm not sure how the new system works with downloads and such. I guess I need to check that out. But I am really intriqued by the starz recommendation.
posted by TLCplz at 9:25 AM on August 25, 2010

HBO. What??! No askmefi love for 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'? 'Bored to Death'?
posted by banshee at 9:33 AM on August 25, 2010

Honestly, I have HBO for TrueBlood, and after the last show of the season, I'm getting it turned back off. They show the same 3 movies over and over for a month, then move in 3 new ones to show back to back for the next month. And I have like.... 6 different HBOs. All the same 3 movies.

I'd go for like.... The Sundance Channel or IFC or something with more variety. HBO is great for the series and nothing else.
posted by From the Fortress at 9:52 AM on August 25, 2010

**For movies, I do Netflix.** (Forgot the mention that)
posted by From the Fortress at 9:53 AM on August 25, 2010

Netflix is a completely different animal now with their instant download option is so easy to use. They just signed a billion dollar deal with Lionsgate, MGM, & Paramount that includes getting movies from those companies 90 days after they've been released on-demand. Bonus points: a lot of the HBO and Showtime series become available on instant so you can watch at your leisure.

For an actual movie channel though, I strongly second Starz. The package comes with more channels and a much larger variety of movies.
posted by Kimberly at 9:54 AM on August 25, 2010

Streaming Netflix is really easy, especially if you have a gaming system like the XBox or the Wii - AND I think that Netflix offers Starz movies through their streaming anyway. It wasn't until this year that I started taking advantage of Netflix streaming, and since then, I really haven't used the mailing service at all. It's definitely something to consider, especially if you're considering Starz!
posted by kerning at 9:57 AM on August 25, 2010

Gotta chime in for Netflix. The streaming option is terrific--works well, the movies rotate quite often, and it isn't all just stuff you've never heard of. And unlimited! So, you can have your 2 or 3 or whatever discs out and still watch literally hundreds of the streaming selections. I will never go back to premium channels. My friends know I am surrounded by a "no spoilers" zone wherever I go, so who cares if I'm a season behind Sookie or Dex? Just means that I can junk out on a weekend-long marathon when it finally comes out.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:31 AM on August 25, 2010

If it's movies you want I'd say definitely look into Netflix if you can. If you have Tivo service, it comes with the ability to do Netflix downloads - which work great on my high speed broadband internet. I know there are other services that make Netflix streaming downloads possible, I'm just not familiar with them...

And the main reason I'd vote for Netflix over premium cable networks is that Netflix tends to have things sooner than cable - at least for the DVD-by-mail option. Not all new stuff is on-demand viewable with Netflix, though the number is always increasing.

Also with Netflix you're not limited to only what HBO or Showtime feel like showing this month - you've always got the full library of movies available. Netflix now has so many classics of the Criterion Collection available, even as streaming downloads, that you could make a great project to work your way through all the best films in cinema on your own time.
posted by dnash at 11:09 AM on August 25, 2010

If you want movies and you don't want to go with Netflix (the best movie service you'll find, outside of Pirate Bay), then avoid HBO. There's no variety there.

Starz is superior to Cinemax and Showtime in the movie category, but if that's not available, I'd just flip a coin.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2010

i recommend setting up your computer with hdmi linked to your movie television.

then go torrent all the movies your interested in. this saves money and time, although you might have to sacrifice discovery of new movies you havnt seen before.
posted by seanmhobson1988 at 12:16 PM on August 25, 2010

Are you getting an on-demand channel as well? A lot of cable providers will offer one free if you get the premium channel.

If so; HBO is best for original content, but Cinemax wins hands down for the largest selection of overall movies. If it is just for film watching, Showtime and TMC are both reasonable alternatives, but nothing I would go out of my way for.

If you can get it, Starz really is pretty spectacular.
posted by quin at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2010

Netflix has changed greatly lately. You can have movies streamed not only to your computer, but also to almost all modern gaming systems, and (if you have a really really modern tv, like the one we just bought) to TVs, if yours has the capability.

For what it's worth, we subscribe to HBO for True Blood.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:53 PM on August 25, 2010

One more for Netflix -- I don't have any fancy gaming systems, and my tv is eight years old. But a one time $70 dollar investment in a Roku box, plus however basic a subscription you want keeps me in more movies than I know what to do with. Plus all those original series.
posted by freshwater at 7:00 PM on August 25, 2010

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