STARZ vs. Showtime

With ad-free live TV streaming and critically-acclaimed originals, STARZ and Showtime are among the leading options in premium subscription services. While the two options are more or less the same in many aspects, the main difference is in the content lineup, with each service having its own original programming that may appeal to different types of viewers.

As highlighted in our Showtime review, the service originally launched in 1978 to compete with HBO. It has since amassed 27 million subscribers, with Showtime’s over-the-top (OTT) service accounting for 7 million of those.

STARZ joined the race much later, launching in 1994 under TCIO and Liberty Media, as we discussed in our STARZ review. The service has since seen exponential growth with 26.2 million total subscribers and 6.3 million OTT customers.

If you’re having a hard time deciding between Showtime vs. STARZ, this post gives you a detailed breakdown of the two services so you can decide on the better option for you.

Compare STARZ vs. Showtime plans

Monthly price$8.99$10.99
Free trial length7 days30 days
Number of titles1,000+600+
Number of simultaneous streams43
Cloud DVR storageN/AN/A
Offline viewingYesYes
Ad-free optionYesYes
Original content available?YesYes
Number of user profiles11

Which streaming service is right for you?

STARZ and Showtime are comparable in many aspects. In addition to on-demand content, both services let you watch live TV without ad interruptions or a cable subscription. Read our guide on how to watch Showtime live without cable. And we have a similar guide that shows you how to watch STARZ without cable.

Both of these services are available as standalone subscriptions. Or you can even add them to another streaming plan such as Hulu and YouTube TV to manage all your subscriptions in one place.

Plus, they cost almost the same. STARZ costs $8.99/mo. and you can read more about this in our STARZ packages and pricing guide. SHOWTIME costs a bit more at $10.99/mo., so there’s just a $2 difference between the two options. Learn more about this in our SHOWTIME packages and pricing guide.

Their features are also similar as they both offer simultaneous streaming and offline viewing capabilities. The main difference is in the content offering, so it’s all a matter of whether you prefer STARZ programming or Showtime productions. Let’s take a closer look at how the two services stack up against each other.

Original content


STARZ has produced a number of hit originals over the years. While the service lacks original movies, you can still find a bunch of popular titles and new releases in its lineup. Check out our recommendations on the best movies to watch on STARZ.

What it lacks in original movies, it makes up for in TV shows. The service is behind several critically-acclaimed, award-winning TV series, including Da Vinci’s Demons, which won two Primetime Emmys, and Spartacus, a Saturn Award and IGN Award winner.

The STARZ original content lineup also includes Ash vs. Evil Dead, which has won a Saturn Award and plenty of niche awards. And Outlander is among the currently-airing hit originals, having won several Saturn Awards and being nominated for the Golden Globes and Primetime Emmys.

Besides these originals, the service also has plenty of hit TV series from other networks. Don’t forget to check out our STARZ TV show recommendations in case you need some suggestions.


Showtime also lacks an original movie collection, but it has a long line of hit TV series. The service has produced several Golden Globe winners over the years, including Californication, House of Lies, Penny Dreadful, Ray Donovan and Weeds, to name a few. Homeland even won five Golden Globes during its nine years of airing.

And although Shameless hasn’t won a Golden Globe yet, it’s bagged four Primetime Emmy Awards and currently ranks #196 on IMDB’s Top Rated TV. So you can tell just how popular these Showtime originals are. Check out our recommended Showtime TV shows for some suggestions on what to watch first.

Even if the service doesn’t have original movies, you can still find several popular and iconic titles to stream. Read our guide to find out which movies to stream on Showtime.

User experience


STARZ offers a fuss-free interface that’s easy to understand and navigate. From the top menu bar, you can navigate between featured content, home screen, movies, series and TV schedule. Under the “My List” tab, you can access your downloads, favorites and playlists. And the “Schedule” tab uses the typical grid-style layout so you can easily find what to watch.

This interface remains more or less the same across all platforms, except you can only get offline viewing on mobile. In addition to the website, you can access STARZ using the app from the following devices:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire tablets and phones (OS 5 or greater)
  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Android phones and tablets (running Android 4.1 or greater)
  • Android TV devices
  • Apple TV devices (3rd generation and newer)
  • iOS phones and tablets (iOS 8.1 or greater)
  • LG TVs (running WebOS 3.0 or higher)
  • Roku players
  • Samsung Smart TVs (select models)
  • Sony TVs (select models)
  • Xbox One and One S


Showtime offers a slick user interface with simple yet essential controls and a clean layout. It even comes with the classic fast forward and rewind buttons that are missing on many streaming services. Showtime allows you to download content for offline viewing when you add it to “My List.” But you can only access this downloaded content using the mobile app.

Other than that, the experience and layout are pretty consistent across all platforms, with a few minor variations here and there.

The Showtime app is available on the following devices:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire tablets and phones (2014+ models)
  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Android phones and tablets (running Android 6.0 or greater)
  • Android TV devices
  • Apple TV devices (3rd generation or newer)
  • Chromecast
  • Facebook Portal TV
  • iOS phones and tablets (running iOS 9.0 or greater)
  • LG Smart TVs (with WebOS)
  • Oculus Go and Oculus Quest
  • PlayStation 4 and 5
  • Roku players
  • Samsung Smart TVs (select models)
  • Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S



STARZ doesn’t offer much in terms of personalization, especially since it doesn’t let you create multiple user profiles under the same account. But it gives you the option to add shows to your “Favorites” and access them from “My List.” The service also recommends content based on what you like to watch.

At the same time, the lack of multiple user profiles means you can’t have your own set of recommendations and favorites separate from other people using the account.

On the plus side, STARZ comes with a solid parental controls setting that allows you to block certain content that you don’t want kids to watch. And you can lock in these settings with a pin, so it offers better security.


Like STARZ, Showtime doesn’t let you create multiple user profiles either. But it gives you recommended programs based on your viewing history. And it lets you save your favorite shows to “My List” so you don’t have to search for them every time.

However, since you can’t create a separate profile, you’ll be sharing the same recommendations and lists with the rest of the family.

In addition, the parental controls are slightly lacking as you can only set the viewing restrictions, but there’s no pin to protect those settings.



  • Offline viewing
  • Four simultaneous streams
  • Highly-rated originals

STARZ gives you the option to download titles to watch offline, which is a great option for travel. But you can access your downloads only from the STARZ mobile app. Besides this, the service lets you stream simultaneously from up to four devices.

The service comes with several binge-worthy original TV shows, including Boss, Hightown, Magic City, Outlander, Power, Vida and more.


  • Hit originals
  • Offline viewing
  • Resume Watching feature

The Showtime content lineup includes a long list of popular and critically-acclaimed originals. This includes titles like Californication, Billions, Dexter, Homeland, House of Lies, Moonbase 8, Ray Donovan, Shameless and more.

You can also download these titles and watch them offline using the Showtime mobile app. One of the service’s unique features is “Resume Watching,” which lets you pause a program on one device and continue watching on another.



The STARZ TV lineup is slightly smaller compared to that of Showtime, which is the biggest disadvantage. And the originals aren’t as big of a hit as compared to the ones you get on Showtime. In addition to this, the service doesn’t give you a lot of 4K titles to choose from.  


For Showtime, one of the biggest disadvantages is the weak parental controls. Since it doesn’t let you set a pin, anyone can change the viewing restrictions, so that’s something to consider if you have older kids in the house.

And while it has a more robust lineup of hit originals compared to STARZ, its overall content library is a lot smaller.

Our hot take

Showtime and STARZ are comparable in many aspects, with both services offering similar features. The biggest difference is in the library of original content unique to each service. So the better choice really depends on whether you prefer Showtime originals or STARZ content.

Other than that, they both make great additions to an existing live TV subscription since they don’t act as comprehensive cable alternatives.

Make sure you sign up for a free trial to STARZ and Showtime and see which one you like more.

Jacqueline Zote

Jacqueline Zote is a digital marketing and entertainment writer who makes regular contributions to Sprout Social and Recreation Insider. Her interests range from pop culture and mythology to social activism. When she’s not writing, she goes on food adventures and binges on crime drama. Her short fiction has been published by HarperCollins Publishers and Zubaan Books.