cbsAdd CBS to the growing list of traditional media companies who are now embracing OTT distribution of their content. CBS All Access is a new subscription based OTT offer that features live and on-demand programming. Included in the offer is a live feed of the local CBS affiliate, although that feature is only available in 14 markets at launch. As HBO announced yesterday. a similar offer is coming from them in 2015.

These moves illustrate a rapidly changing marketplace for video consumption. Traditional media companies who are entrenched in the legacy pay-TV and broadcast models are now moving quickly to seize shifting consumer behavior for content consumption. Netflix, with over 50 million subscribers globally and an increasing share of network bandwidth for their streaming content, is the poster child of this shift and traditional media companies are now reacting in kind.

CBS_ All_Access
CBS OTT Channel
The CBS offer costs $5.99 per month and includes:

  • A library of 6,500 episodes of TV series available for on-demand viewing
  • Next day access to new CBS television shows for on-demand viewing
  • A live CBS affiliate feed (currently only available in the below markets)

The live feeds are available in the following DMAs: Baltimore, MD (WJZ); Boston, MA (Manchester, NH) (WBZ); Chicago, IL (WBBM); Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (KTVT); Denver, CO (KCNC); Detroit, MI (WWJ); Los Angeles, CA (KCBS); Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL (WFOR); Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN (WCCO;), New York, NY (WCBS); Philadelphia, PA (KYW); Pittsburgh, PA (KDKA); Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA (KOVR); and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA (KPIX). CBS says more markets will be added over time.

What CBS All Access Does Not Include
There are some interesting angles to the CBS offer. NFL games are not included with the package for instance, further illustrating the contentious issues regarding sports programming, particularly the NFL. CBS says they’re working with the NFL to gain these rights.

CBS All Access also seems to target all devices but the TV. At launch, it’s focused on smartphones, tablets, and the PC, with no mention of TV access for the OTT channel. I assume that will change, but it’s interesting that the TV is omitted at launch, a further reflection of the changing nature of the video business.

An Emerging A La Carte Model?
This offer will be interesting to watch, considering the current state of content access. Much of what CBS is offering with CBS All Access was available through a mish-mash of online content offerings, including websites and other subscription based services. The emerging TV Everywhere model also gives existing pay-TV subscribers access to some of this content. For now, it’s somewhat of a confusing content mess for the average consumer.

What’s emerging though is a quasi “a la carte” model, where consumers have more choices to pick the content they want and the devices they choose to watch it on. What’s not clear is the business model and whether consumers will actually save any money with this new approach. When you add up all the individual subscription costs for the different content choices, will it add up to the same amount (or more) as a traditional monthly pay-TV package?

There are also emerging online video distributors who are trying to capture this momentum and aggregate content from multiple OTT channels and traditional media companies. It’s the emergence of cable providers (or MVPDs as the FCC calls them) who do not own a physical access network, but are aggregating and building an OTT channel-line up to be delivered via broadband.

What is clear is the TV model is undergoing rapid change, with significant implications for video and broadband service providers. Enjoy the ride, if you can.

Join the Conversation

3 thoughts on “CBS OTT Channel, CBS All Access, Includes Live TV From Local Affiliates

  1. As a small cable TV provider, we are *required* by the FCC to carry the local network stations, and we must "negotiate" (read: are forced to pay) whatever dollar amount they demand for their content. And we are NOT allowed by the FCC to break-out the local networks into an ala carte package! So now CBS is offering their content ala carte, yet we are not allowed by the FCC to do this? (And the FCC allows the satellite providers to package the networks into a separate tier also.)
    Let's see. If the other broadcast networks start OTT and also charge $5.99/mo, we'd gladly put all four of the local network stations into a separate package and allow customers to drop them for a total discount of $23.96 per month.
    If consumers do the math, this OTT offer is not a bargain as most CATV systems offer a basic package with other channels and LIVE programming for about the same price point.
    The FCC really needs to wake up and level the playing field – that would help consumers tremendously.

  2. Our small cable system is in the same boat. We dropped all the satellite programming a few years ago, only offering a few channels that are free plus every off-air channel we can possibly pick up, subchannels included. Now, after receiving letters from stations in this new round of retransmision consent "negotiations", we are considering dropping all those local channels too and becoming a pure ISP. Yes, it wastes all the bandwidth we have on our cable system, but it transitions us to a data-only provider and frees us completely from all the retransmission and bundling nonsense.

    People want ala carte, they can have it, but they better get ready, as these new HBO and CBS OTT ventures show, it is going to be EXPENSIVE. These channels are going to gouge the public to no end, it is going to be fun to watch.

  3. As the Bernie points out, the real interesting thing to watch here is that all of this OTT/A la carte stuff is going to end up costing subscribers more than a regular package. I think the content folks know this — they are trying to force the 'value' of the pay-TV package by offering a la carte options that cost too much

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