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CBS Eyeing NFL Football for 'All Access' SVOD

10 Dec, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

CEO Les Moonves dismisses subscription streaming service impact on bundled channel ecosystem

CBS is looking to offer NFL football games on its “All Access” subscription streaming service — a move, if realized, would for the first time offer live sports on a third-party SVOD platform.

CBS in October and November, respectively, launched “CBS All Access” for $5.99 a month and “CBSN,” the latter the first ad-supported major network digital streaming news service.

Major sports events such as professional/college football and basketball via ESPN and broadcasters such as CBS have been traditional boat anchors of the bundled channel subscription business model. CBS has exclusive access to NFL football on Thursday, in addition to select broadcast rights on NFL Sunday and Southeastern Conference (SEC) college football games.

NBA, MLB and NHL games and matches are currently offered on league-owned proprietary SVOD services.

Speaking Dec. 9 at The UBS 42nd Annual Global Media and Communications confab in New York, CEO Les Moonves said the $5.99 price would change should NFL come aboard the service.

“The NFL could share in some of that [revenue],” Moonves said. “There’s no question sports is a major driver. There are all sorts of possibilities.”

The network’s Thursday night NFL broadcasts come up for renewal at the end of the season — a deal Moonves hopes to continue. Similar arrangements for NFL Sunday and the SEC continue for another 10 years respectively.

That said, the executive reiterated that 70% of NFL broadcasts are still watched on a big-screen TV in the living room.

The CEO said user traffic spiked at CBSN during the Ferguson, Mo., civil unrest, while “All Access” subscriptions are growing beyond expectations. Moonves declined to offer subscriber specifics, saying he might be more forthright about the numbers in three years.

“When Netflix tells you how many people are watching ‘House of Cards,’ we’ll tell you how many subs we have,” he quipped.

The executive said the service is not intended to circumvent the multichannel video program distribution business model. Instead, it’s intended to work with MVPDs. He said “All Access” would grow as more CBS affiliates come on board the concept. Currently, live programming is limited to participating over-the-air local affiliates. Moonves expects in a few months to have live programming on the service throughout the country.

“Affiliates would share in the monthly subscription revenue,” he said.

Moonves reiterated that online content rights represent another page in the evolution of content that previously saw cable rights surpassing broadcast, then surpassed by satellite rights and then telecom rights.

“This is happening all over the world where Netflix-like competitors are out there and the market is booming,” he said. “I don’t look at SVOD as a disrupter. Twenty million people are still watching NCIS every Tuesday night on TV.”

Separately, Moonves revealed that in CBS’s new retransmission agreement with Dish Network, the satellite operator agreed to suspend its controversial AutoHop ad-skipping DVR technology until seven days after a primetime program’s initial broadcast.



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