Showtime takes screeners to the iPhone

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As my colleague Dan Frankel is reporting in Variety, Showtime is launching its own iPhone application for a very, very exclusive group of people.

The pay network’s Emmy screeners are going onto Apple’s mobile device, and the companion iPod Touch, via a password protected application that lets voters watch episodes of shows like “Dexter,” “The L Word,” and “United States of Tara.”

Traditionally, Emmy and Oscars awards screeners have been provided to voters via DVD. But discs can be lost, or stolen, or most importantly, pirated.

Last year Showtime was the first network to scrap them and put all its Emmy hopefuls a password protected website. Because they’re streaming only, now downloadable, they’re actually much tougher to pirate than a DVD. And in the age of Hulu and YouTube, online video is no longer an unusual or sub-par experience.

Of course on mobile devices, it still is. As I’ve been discovering watching a few CBS shows via the TV.com mobile app, mobile video has improved dramatically, but is still well below what we’re used to on PCs and TVs.

Nonetheless, Showtime’s imperative is clearly to get its shows in front of as many voters as possible. As anyone who spends time in the entertainment industry knows, iPhones are fast becoming ubiquitous. There are undoubtedly a lot of Emmy voters who have them.

By being the first network to put screeners on the device, Showtime isn’t only meeting voters where they live, but also generating a little buzz by being on the technological cutting edge. Which undoubtedly won’t hurt come nomination time.

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