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Les Moonves: Showtime OTT Video Service Coming Soon

11 Mar, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

CBS CEO says days of 150-Channel TV bundle in the home are changing

Hailing HBO’s partnership with Apple for an over-the-top video service, CBS CEO Les Moonves told an investor group a similar subscription streaming service for premium channel Showtime will launch in the coming months.

Speaking March 11 at Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom confab in Palm Beach, Fla., Moonves said the HBO Now announcement has helped sway the minds of hesitant multichannel video program distributors regarding OTT video.

“You’re going to see similar [Showtime OTT] announcements from us in the coming months,” Moonves said. “OTT [video] is something that’s on everybody’s mind. We’re entering into a new age.”

Moonves said CBS has talked with existing broadcast partners as well as digital players, which could include Roku, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV, among others.

CBS last year launched CBS All Access, a $5.99 monthly SVOD service affording access to catalog and recent network programing. It also bowed CBSN, an ad-supported online news service.

Moonves echoed comments made by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes regarding concerns from MVPDs about the potential impact OTT video could have on their businesses. Moonves said he was surprised HBO’s exclusive deal with Apple TV was only for 90 days and did not include cable, satellite or telecom distributors.

“While there was a bit of [MVPD] interest in [OTT video], I think the floodgate is now open. We got a number of calls yesterday from both existing players and digital players we have talked to,” he said.

When asked about consumer response to CBS All Access, Moonves declined to reveal subscriber data, saying only the number exceeded reports of 100,000 subs for Dish Network's nascent Sling TV SVOD service featuring ESPN, CNN, Disney Channel and ABC Family, among others.

Moonves said OTT video will be a positive for premium channels like HBO and Showtime by opening up new revenue opportunities for their unique episodic programing — a mainstay of subscription streaming.

The executive said CBS is insulated from possible cannibalization of broadcast viewers by OTT due to its reliance on original programing versus distribution. Moonves said the days of the 150-channel universe in the home are changing rapidly.

At the same time, the CEO said CBS and Showtime programing will have to be included in whatever bundling evolves across all distribution channels.

“People are going to be slicing and dicing it in different ways. I don’t think there is any way shape or form anybody should look at [OTT video] other than a major positive for premium cable,” he said.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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