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Showtime expands its Apple fare

'Sleeper,' 'Weeds,' 'Actress' available on iTunes

Showtime has become the latest network to board the iTunes train.

Cable network announced Tuesday that original shows “Sleeper Cell,” “Weeds” and the short-lived “Fat Actress” are now available on the Apple music store service.

Deal marks the first time a pay channel has made full-length episodes of its originals available online for purchase.

Showtime chairman Matt Blank called the partnership ideal because it would expose the network’s shows to a much bigger audience.

“Our content is only available in 14 million homes to begin with,” Blank said. “It gives people who don’t get Showtime a chance to sample and see how strong our product is.”

First seasons of all three shows are currently available for the standard $1.99 per episode rate.

As for whether or not this new access to Showtime series drives subs to the main channel, Blank said if they don’t sign up “(deal) is still a great ancillary revenue stream for us. We win either way.”

Showtime sister web CBS has yet to make a deal with Apple to make its programming accessible on iTunes. Eye, however, has already made new episodes of “Survivor” available for a 24-hour “rental period” on its official Web site CBS.com, also at the $1.99 rate. In addition, other CBS shows “CSI” and “The Amazing Race” are available on Google Video.

Apple’s iTunes store has sold a total of 12 million pieces of video content since it first started offering them in October. That’s about $24 million of revenue split between Apple and content providers like Disney, NBC U, and diskeries selling musicvideos.

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