It’s a good time to be a TV addict. Just one day after HBO announced that it would offer standalone streaming for viewers without cable or satellite service, CBS stepped up to the microphone to announce its own streaming service, CBS All Access.
Described by the mega-corp as an “on demand and Nielsen-measured live streaming service” for CBS network programming, the $6 per month service will offer viewers an arsenal of thousands of CBS episodes, including current-season programming, a backlog of older seasons of current shows, and “classic shows” on demand. In addition, and perhaps most interesting, the service will provide CBS’ biggest markets live streams of CBS programming, available in 14 cities as of launch.
“CBS All Access is another key step in the company’s long-standing strategy of monetizing our local and national content in the ways viewers want it,” said CBS president and CEO Les Moonves.
Some may remember Les Moonves for his very recent, and very vocal, opposition to a similar service called Aereo, which offered OTA (over the air) content to users for a monthly subscription fee, without paying royalties to the networks. Aereo used banks of tiny antennae to record local programming to the cloud, where users could access it from computers and mobile devices. After years of fighting litigation from CBS, and the rest of the major networks, the service was dubbed illegal, and rendered defunct by the Supreme Court.
Throughout the proceedings, Moonves claimed that CBS might create its own streaming service to compete with its opponent, even going so far as to threaten that CBS might pull its programming off the airwaves completely, should Aereo continue. While it doesn’t look like its traditional broadcast model is going away anytime soon, it appears Moonves wasn’t bluffing. Once HBO made its move, CBS decided to pull the trigger.
While some might scoff at paying for network programming that’s free to anyone with an HD antenna, CBS does have some enticing offerings that should help peddle its new venture, including full past seasons of popular shows like the Good Wife and Survivor, as well as around 5,000 episodes of classic hits like Star Trek, and even Twin Peaks, and big events like The Grammy Awards, and The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Live viewing via All Access will initially be offered in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, with more to follow.
The future possibilities of today’s announcement may be even more intriguing. CBS owns many other TV properties, including a little cable network called Showtime. With today’s announcement coming so close to HBO’s coming out party, it’s not hard to connect the dots as to what CBS may serve up next.