Showtime’s Emmy screenings online

Brightcove to stream full seasons of series

If Showtime has its way, those expensive, extravagant Emmy screeners may soon be a thing of the past.

The pay cabler, which has relied on hefty mailers in the past to secure nominations for skeins such as “Weeds,” has opted not to stuff this year’s Emmy mailbox. Instead, it’s moving the campaign online.

Showtime has pacted with Internet TV company Brightcove to stream full seasons of its series — including signature programs “Weeds,” “Dexter” and “Californication” — for TV Academy members via a special website.

Showtime series will be available beginning Feb. 15 and continue streaming through the summer (which includes the Emmy season’s June balloting and August judging). Campaign reps the first time any network has posted via the Internet an entire season’s worth of episodes for Emmy voters.

“I think the Academy members are ready for this,” said Richard Licata, exec VP of corporate communications at Showtime.

Licata said both economics and the environment fueled the change. Not only will Showtime save a bundle of money by not mailing out large Emmy packages, but voters won’t be stuck with them later on.

“This will eliminate the enormous amount of packaging that has inundated members and ultimately ends up in our landfills,” Licata said.

The exec credited Showtime Digital Media senior VP-general manager Rob Hayes with bringing Brightcove aboard. The company’s new “Brightcove Show” Internet TV application, which is about to be released, will be used to deliver what Showtime promises will be an “instant, full-screen, broadcast-quality viewing experience direct to each member’s computer.”

Brightcove chairman-CEO Jeremy Allaire said the service would offer a “clean, simple interface” for viewers.

“The viewing experience will rival the best that TV can deliver,” Allaire said.

The partnership with Brightcove also will expand beyond the Emmy realm, as Showtime adopts the company’s technology in distributing ad-supported video content.

Meanwhile, fully aware that not all Academy members will be willing to watch online, Showtime will still send out a streamlined brochure with program information and a handful of series episodes. Screener will include three DVDs — compared with 20 found in last year’s Showtime box.

By launching the site in February, Showtime hopes to get an early leg up on the competish and convince TV Academy members to watch episodes online at their leisure (before the deluge of mailers from other channels).

“There’s a real concern about being inundated with DVDs in May and June,” Licata said. “People can’t watch it all. This is designed to give people a motivation to watch, maybe on a lazy Saturday or Sunday.”

Licata said dumping the Emmy packages will also help combat piracy and illegal sales of those DVDs.

“As our product becomes more popular, piracy is more of an issue,” he said.

Showtime has set trends in the past with its Emmy campaigns; the net was the first to send out an entire season of episodes to Academy members, for “Huff” in 2005.