CBS Takes OTT Plunge

Let the dominos fall where they may. Just one day after HBO announced it would take its network over the top in 2015, CBS has launched an online subscription service of its own called CBS All Access. (See HBO Will Go OTT in 2015.)

In the careful-what-you-wish-for category, however, the à la carte offering comes with several limitations. For $5.99 per month, subscribers get access to more than 6,500 CBS shows on demand, including next-day streaming of daytime, primetime and late-night programming. But, while TV classics are delivered without ads, new fare still streams with advertising despite the monthly fee. In addition, CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) is delivering local live streams in 14 media markets* at launch, but some prime sports content, such as NFL games, will still be blacked out.

The CBS All Access service is available on the Mac, PC, and iOS and Android mobile devices. It is not supported on game consoles, the Roku platform or in "set-top-box type streaming devices or built-in TV browsers," at least not yet.

Want to know more about OTT services? Check out our dedicated OTT content channel here on Light Reading.

After years of consumers calling for à la carte TV, it looks like programmers are ready to deliver. It comes at a premium, however. In a pay-TV bundle, subscribers likely pay around $2 per month for access to CBS shows. The standalone offering includes an extended library of on-demand content, but, at triple the cost, it may prove too pricey for consumers -- especially those who ultimately want to view more than just CBS programming. (See TWC, CBS End Their Feud and Why Pay for Free TV?)

A free one-week trial of the new service is available at the new CBS All Access website.

*From the CBS All Access FAQ: Live TV is only available in Baltimore, MD (WJZ), Boston, MA (Manchester, NH) (WBZ), Chicago, IL (WBBM), Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (KTVT), Denver, CO (KCNC), Detroit, MI (WWJ), Los Angeles, CA (KCBS), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL (WFOR), Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN (WCCO), New York, NY (WCBS), Philadelphia, PA (KYW), Pittsburgh, PA (KDKA), Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA (KOVR) and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA (KPIX).

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
brooks7 10/17/2014 | 11:09:29 PM
Re: Therein lies the rub dwx,

In some markets (like mine), Live TV is available. In those markets, Live Sports ARE available.  It is stated explicity in the "Tour" of the website.




dwx 10/17/2014 | 9:40:08 PM
Re: Therein lies the rub Uh this isnt going to allow you to watch major sports like the article says, its basically paying $6 for access to VOD content and perhaps a live stream of a local affiliate.  Its really nothing more than Hulu.  To not piss off cable, satellite, and telcos paying them big retrans fees they won't let you watch the content on your TV. 
danielcawrey 10/17/2014 | 7:04:46 PM
Re: Therein lies the rub Might be an interesting service to buy if you want to access sports. For example, CBS does Thursday Night Football as well as Sunday afternoon games. I bet there will be customers that will get this package if they don't have cable just for football season.

I would think about doing it, I don't subscribe to cable televison. 
mendyk 10/17/2014 | 1:57:08 PM
Re: Therein lies the rub I can only guess at the mechanisms involved since no details have been revealed, but there would almost certainly be some sort of password-protected access the the content provider's vault, which would be in place regardless of who's providing the broadband connection. The principle is to take the content aggregator (i.e., video service providers) out of the picture.
jburton 10/17/2014 | 1:52:08 PM
Re: Therein lies the rub When Viacom (and Fox) blocked ISP access during disputes, blocks to free content were placed at the IP address range level.

With this new service, I suppose they would need to determine if the ISP customer was a paying CBS customer before deciding to block 'free' content.

mendyk 10/17/2014 | 1:35:47 PM
Re: Therein lies the rub At this point, retransmission deals are on a case-by-base basis. Theoretically with OTT, there is no retrans issue because the content provider is selling directly to consumers.
jburton 10/17/2014 | 1:25:00 PM
Re: Therein lies the rub What happens when there is another Retransmission Consent impass?  Will CBS (as sister company Viacom has done) block internet access from the customers of the Internet Service Provider/TV Service Provider?
mendyk 10/17/2014 | 8:42:32 AM
Re: Therein lies the rub To recover a term from the 1990s, content providers are vaguely threatening to disintermediate content distributors. The current reality, though, is that the providers are completely hooked on the revenue they get from distributors, and it's far from certain that providers could build up to that revenue even 10 years after they disengage from the partnerships and offer their content on their own. So the strategy for video content providers is most likely to be developing an "OTT channel" that allows for direct sale to the market while maintaining the existing distribution relationships.
MikeP688 10/17/2014 | 12:38:27 AM
Re: Therein lies the rub This is why I have been "refraining" from intergrating my ROKU device yet...but the idea of "Cord shaving" at least is ever so appealing.     As I write this, I am listening to live feed from Israel on i24news.TV....and switched to NDTV from India....and also just got an offer of HULU Plus for two free months.    I underscore this to note that the choices are immense despite the transformation we see with the content delivery folks (TWC/Comcast)...content creators are seeing the writing on the wall :-)
mendyk 10/16/2014 | 3:46:05 PM
Therein lies the rub As every diner knows, a la carte usually works out to be more expensive than a set menu. Six bucks a month per broadcast network comes to almost $25, and that's without indies or PBS. OTT on a massive scale won't work under these conditions. And maybe that's the plan here.
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