In an increasingly competitive media streaming landscape dominated by Netflix and Hulu, CBS is betting big on its relatively young subscription-based service, CBS All Access, according to a recent report from Reuters.
As it stands now, CBS gives audiences a chance to see only a limited number of TV episodes — including hits such as The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife — online for free for a brief amount of time. It opens up its digital content via its All Access subscription product, which lets viewers stream a broader amount of content on PCs, tablets, and smartphones for $5.99 a month. CBS launched All Access about 18 months ago.
In the works are plans for CBS to distribute some of its shows, including more original content, exclusively via All Access. For example, CBS previously announced that its new, upcoming Star Trek series, scheduled for 2017, will premiere on the network, then switch exclusively to All Access. It is choosing this route rather than selling Star Trek to Netflix or other streaming services, betting it will attract paying customers who will be more valuable in the long term.
CBS has long considered online video providers as competitors rather than partners, and it has no ownership stake in outside streaming services. As such, it has pitted itself against Hulu, a joint venture owned by Comcast/NBC, FOX, and Disney/ABC. According to network head Leslie Moonves, CBS decided against joining those other media conglomerates to invest in Hulu, figuring it would be better off controlling its own content.
Whether or not this is the case is still a big question mark. The network hasn’t disclosed how many customers subscribe to CBS All Access, but the Reuters article cites estimates of around 500,000 from Jefferies analyst John Janedis. In comparison, Netflix has tens of millions of subscribers. Good thing CBS still has all those advertisers to help bring in revenue.
Amy Schein is an Industry Specialist at First Research, where she covers various aspects of the media industry. She earned her BS and MA in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Amy on Twitter.
Image courtesy of CBS.