CBS Eyes Online Streaming Deals
CBS is now selling TV everywhere. In the company's quarterly earnings report last week, CBS CEO Les Moonves rattled off a slew of distribution outlets that are now taking content from CBS Studios.
In a first-of-its-kind deal, for example, ABC Inc. has purchased a series produced by CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS). That adds to programming that CBS is already creating for The CW Television Network and premium cable network Showtime Networks Inc.
Moonves also emphasized that, "Going forward, we will be producing more and more shows for more and more outlets, including major streaming companies and other emerging distributors."
While CBS is still an over-the-air broadcast TV network, the company is increasingly willing to expand its options for content distribution. That includes other traditional TV outlets, but also, apparently, subscription streaming services. The move isn't a transition away from free TV, but it does illustrate how CBS doesn't want to be tied solely to the broadcast model.
It's a perspective that may have been heightened when Aereo Inc. threatened CBS's content licensing revenue. In 2013, Moonves said he would shift CBS TV behind a cable paywall if the courts allowed companies to bypass retransmission-consent fees for free broadcast television. That threat is off the table now thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling against Aereo, but it may have contributed to CBS's willingness to experiment with new methods of distribution. (See Supreme Court Halts Aereo's Flight and 'Free' TV Model Under Threat.)
Meanwhile, the fact that CBS is actively negotiating deals with streaming companies also means that traditional pay-TV providers are facing increased competition in the race to stock up on valuable original content. So far, Moonves hasn't disclosed which streaming companies it will sell content to, but he did suggest that new partnership announcements are imminent. "I think shortly, you're going to hear us being in business with some of the SVoDs with original program[ming]."
Moonves also indicated that more original content is on the CBS roadmap. "I think we have over 30 shows in production, and that's only going to grow," he said.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading