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CBS Planning Sports OTT Video Service

14 Sep, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

CBS CEO Les Moonves

CBS All Access and Showtime OTT have combined 4 million subscribers

CBS is looking to circumvent ESPN by launching a sports-centric standalone over-the-top video service in the near future.

Speaking Sept. 14 at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York, CEO Les Moonves said the digital sports network would focus on news, highlights and scores — unlike Disney-owned ESPN, which he said is just noise.

“I’m a big sports fan. I’m turning on ESPN a lot and I’m seeing people yelling at each other. I want to see whether the Yankees or Dodgers won last night,” Moonves said.

He downplayed Disney’s $1 billion purchase of OTT backend operator BAMtech, claiming CBS can launch OTT platforms in-house less expensively.

“We have the technology,” Moonves said. “We have a huge sports business through CBS Sports. CBS Interactive. We have a ton of content, on-air announcers and talent. So the investment for us is not a lot of money.”

Indeed, standalone SVOD service CBS All Access this year is streaming select NFL games, except on mobile devices.

When asked if CBS has the requisite license rights with sports leagues to go consumer-direct, Moonves said it remains a work in progress, citing “great relationships” with the NFL, NCAA, SEC (college football) and golf.

“Some of them we do. Some, we have to go back … [but] we know how to do it,” he said. 

Moonves said the digital sports network would initially be ad-supported with a subscription component melded in over time.

“As we do with CBSN, which is part of All Access, we see a view where we can have dual revenue streams down the road,” he said.

Separately, the executive said All Access and Showtime OTT, the premium channel’s $10.99 monthly SVOD service, have a combined 4 million subscribers, which pales in comparison with Netflix’s more than 50 million domestic subs. 

“All Access is not going to get 50 million subs,” Moonves said, adding he expects a surge in subs when the SVOD exclusively streams the new “Star Trek: Discovery” series, beginning Sept. 24.

“We expect a big September and October,” he said.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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