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CBS Bowing Subscription Streaming Service

16 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

"CBS All Access" SVOD service

$5.99 monthly service, dubbed ‘CBS All Access,’ offers full seasons of current primetime, daytime and late night CBS programming, in addition to episodes from catalog shows.

CBS Corp. Oct. 16 was quick to jump on the burgeoning SVOD bandwagon, announcing the launch of “CBS All Access,” a $5.99-per-month standalone subscription streaming service that doesn’t require a concurrent pay-TV subscription.

The new service, which will be measured by Nielsen, is available at CBS.com and on mobile devices through the CBS App for iOS and Android. It offers full seasons of current primetime, daytime and late night CBS programming, in addition to episodes from catalog shows.

Programming features eight major current series, including “The Good Wife,” “Blue Bloods” and “Survivor,” in addition to more than 6,500 episodes of CBS Classics, such as “Star Trek,” “Cheers,” “MacGyver,” “Twin Peaks” and “CSI: Miami.”

“CBS All Access” also offers live streaming of local CBS television stations in 14 of the largest U.S. markets. Notably, programming will be available the day after the shows air on network TV, with an eight-day delay on mobile devices for primetime series only. There is also no live sports on All Access.

“CBS All Access” is another key step in the company’s long-standing strategy of monetizing our local and national content in the ways that viewers want it,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement. “Across the board, we continue to capitalize on technological advances that help consumers engage with our world-class programming, and we look forward to serving our viewers in this new and exciting way.”

The move comes the day after HBO announced a landmark decision to offer its coveted premium pay-TV channel as a standalone SVOD service beginning in 2015. Details of the service, pricing and content offering have not been disclosed.

Moonves has never shied away from SVOD, often embracing and challenging the distribution channel in investor presentations and on fiscal calls. CBS was one of the first media companies to license content to Netflix, while at the same time arguing against licensing content to ad-supported platforms such as Hulu — but not Hulu Plus.

Indeed, much of CBS classic programming is also available on Netflix, while the network licenses exclusive access to sci-fi shows “Under the Dome” and “Extant” to Amazon Prime Instant Video.

With Moonves also a big supporter of ad-supported network programming and the traditional syndication ecosystem, speculation of a SVOD service within CBS centered around its Showtime brand — which operates on the same stage as HBO.

Showtime, with a slate of original programing such as award-winning “Homeland,” “The Affair,” “Ray Donovan,” “Masters of Sex,” “Shameless,” “Penny Dreadful,” “House of Lies” and “Episodes,” in addition to recently concluded series “Dexter” and “Californication,” has always been a coveted premium TV channel.

In an Oct. 15 email, Showtime said it continued to look at ways of expanding its audience beyond the MVPD business model.

“[SVOD] is certainly something that we have been examining for some time. The subscription model is ideally positioned to take advantage of developing technologies in the consumer marketplace,” read the email.

Despite the possibility SVOD could cannibalize network broadcasts, CBS television stations circled the wagons in support of "All Access." Peter Dunn, president of CBS Television Stations, said that with video consumption habits changing all the time, the time is right for a SVOD service.

“Television stations have been the fabric of local broadcasting for 75 years and today’s announcement is part of paving the way for the next 75. We are extremely pleased to be a part of this exciting new service, and look forward to reaching a whole new set of viewers in our major markets across the country,” Dunn said in a statement.

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