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.
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