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CBS All Access Offers Showtime Add-On for Existing Customers

Phillip Dampier May 11, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video 1 Comment

CBS is now offering CBS All Access and Showtime’s standalone service customers a bundled package of both services for up to $2 off.

Starting now, current customers who visit their account page on either service will have the option of adding either CBS All Access or Showtime to their account. CBS will expand the service to new subscribers at a later point, so if you have neither service today, you cannot get this offer yet.

Prices reflect a bundling discount. Showtime itself normally costs $10.99/month. CBS All Access costs $5.99 a month with commercials, $9.99 without.

  • Showtime with CBS All Access Limited Commercial Plan: $14.99 (save $1)
  • Showtime with CBS All Access No Commercial Plan: $18.99 (save $2)

CBS CEO Les Moonves has promised a bundled offer since last year, and now it has arrived.

Once subscribed, customers can access both services on desktop computers, mobile devices, tablets, and streaming video boxes like Roku.

One benefit of CBS All Access is the option of live-streaming your local CBS station, available in about 90% of U.S. households. CBS is taking steps to broaden online distribution of CBS affiliated stations on other streaming platforms as well, which could make CBS the first network to offer wide access to local stations on emerging live streaming platforms like Hulu TV, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now.

CBS claims about 1.65 million customers subscribe to Showtime’s online streaming service and almost the same number subscribe to CBS’ All Access Pass. In comparison, HBO Now, available on a standalone basis, has around two million subscribers.

CBS Rakes in $1 Billion in 2016 from Cable, Satellite TV Customers

Phillip Dampier February 20, 2017 Consumer News 3 Comments

CBS earned $1 billion from cable and satellite TV customers in 2016, collected from providers in return for permission to carry CBS stations on their lineups.

“Annual revenue from retransmission consent and reverse compensation has already exceeded $1 billion, a full year ahead of schedule, and continues to grow rapidly,” said CBS CEO Les Moonves in a statement.

Most cable and satellite providers pass along those fees directly to consumers either in the price charged for service or through so-called “Broadcast TV surcharges” that are broken out separately on the bill. CBS has plans to more than double those fees, with a target of collecting $2.5 billion annually by the year 2020. One-third of CBS’ national coverage area will face contract renewal discussions in the next 24 months, leading to higher priced renewals.

Other networks are also expecting similar compensation boosts, and SNL Kagan projected operators would be passing on $10.6 billion in broadcast TV retransmission consent fees within the next three years. That could raise the Broadcast TV surcharge to $10-15 a month in some areas, just to cover fees charged by local ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, MyNetworkTV and NBC stations.

Some of the windfall profits CBS are collecting from retransmission agreements could be spent acquiring more TV stations, if FCC Chairman Ajit Pai loosens TV station ownership limits.

“If the cap is lifted we’d strategically look to buy more stations,” Moonves said.

Altice End Runs Around Connecticut TV Station’s Blackout By Sending Customers to CBS All Access

“Of course you know this means war.”

Altice USA has found a way to use CBS’ All Access online streaming service against a Connecticut CBS affiliate that blacked out its signal for some Connecticut Cablevision customers.

Meredith-owned CBS affiliate WFSB-TV in Hartford has been off the Optimum television lineup in two dozen Connecticut towns as of 5pm Friday, Jan. 13 after negotiations between Iowa-based Meredith and Altice USA broke down over the price of renewing a retransmission consent contract that Altice claims is 800% more expensive than before.

That means Optimum customers in Litchfield County no longer have access to CBS programming. Or do they? Optimum’s website is redirecting affected customers to WFSB’s network — CBS — and offering a week’s free trial of CBS’ All Access, which allows viewers online access to all CBS programming on demand.

Optimum’s previously negotiated distribution deal with CBS for the All Access platform has been in place since the summer of 2015, which means CBS cannot pull the offer down from Altice’s website. That effectively means CBS is being used to undercut its own affiliate’s most important leverage — taking away popular programming until a provider finally capitulates and signs a renewal contract.

Matt Polka, president of the American Cable Association, which represents small and independent cable companies, loves it.

“Local broadcasters cannibalized by their own network!” Polka tweeted.

Altice USA has promised investors it will hold the line on programming costs even if it means finding alternatives for customers. This seems to be an example at work.

Will CBS All Access weaken Meredith’s position on WFSB to force price concessions? The New Haven Register isn’t sure, reporting there are years of “bad blood” between Cablevision and Meredith over carriage contracts:

During the last retransmission agreement negotiations in 2014, Cablevision Systems called on the Federal Communications Commission to investigate whether Meredith Corp. was meeting public interest obligations that are an important component of all television station licenses. Cablevision also sued Meredith in Connecticut’s court system under the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The latest dispute has attracted the attention of both of Connecticut’s U.S. senators.

“I typically don’t get involved because it’s not for me to dictate the terms of a dispute between a cable company and a network,” Sen. Chris Murphy said in a statement issued Friday night. “But I haven’t been pleased with Altice’s commitment to Connecticut since it bought Cablevision.”

FierceCable reported the area’s congressional delegation isn’t happy with either company:

Connecticut’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy, sent a letter addressed to both Meredith Corp. CEO Stephen Lacy and Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei.

“While we respect the private negotiations being conducted by Optimum and WFSB and make no representations as to the merits of either side’s position, we believe that the current impasse does a disservice to Connecticut families and we urge you to negotiate in good faith to bring an end to this blackout,” the Senators wrote.

Altice, meanwhile, said in its own statement, “We have been negotiating in good faith for weeks and made multiple offers to Meredith even though their initial request was for more than 800% over what we currently pay.”

Better Late Than Never: CBS Adds $9.99 Ad-free Option to Its All Access Pass

Phillip Dampier August 31, 2016 Consumer News, Online Video No Comments

cbs all accessViewers hoping to see their last Cialis ad while watching 60 Minutes online now have that option as CBS announces the introduction of a commercial-free plan for its All Access subscription service.

For an extra $4 a month, CBS will remove all online advertising from its current run and new shows.  Those who don’t mind the ads can continue to pay $5.99/month, which includes an ad free experience for older content the network calls CBS Classics. Current CBS programming includes a heavy load of advertising and it is often repetitious. For some, $9.99/month is not too much to pay for the complete removal of commercials.

“The foundation of CBS All Access is not only about giving CBS fans access to more of the content they want, but also giving them more choice in how they watch their favorite CBS programming,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and chief operating officer of CBS Interactive. “The addition of a commercial-free plan gives our subscribers even more ways to customize their CBS viewing experience – from which devices to whether they watch in or out of the home, and now with commercials or without.”

Current subscribers will have the option to move to the commercial-free plan by logging on to their account through CBS.com.

For the commercial-free plan, CBS All Access’s live-streaming offering of local CBS Television stations, available throughout the U.S. in more than 150 markets, will continue to feature the same commercials as the over-the-air broadcast, and select on-demand shows will include promotional interruptions.

CBS All Access is available online at CBS.com, on mobile devices and tablets via the CBS App for iOS, Android and Windows 10, and on Roku Players, Apple TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, with more connected device platforms coming soon.

CBS Considers Ad-Free All Access

Phillip Dampier August 11, 2016 Consumer News, Online Video 2 Comments

cbs all accessCBS may have discovered consumers don’t like to pay $5.99 for the company’s streaming service only to be inundated with just as many commercials as an over-the-air viewer encounters without having to pay a penny.

“We’re toying with the idea of a commercial free option and how we might roll that out to consumers,” Marc DeBevoise, president of CBS Interactive said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, reports Variety.

The monthly fee includes live streaming of the local CBS affiliate in some markets and a library of content — both old and new — owned or licensed by CBS. While some of the older shows are shown with few commercials, current season shows often contain a full commercial load. That appears to be turning viewers off, and the service is growing more slowly than its competitors.

DeBevoise told attendees CBS will try limiting the ad load on debuting original content that will be available exclusively through CBS All Access in the United States. A new version of “Big Brother” is the first new series, expected to start this fall. “Star Trek: Discovery” and a spinoff of “The Good Wife” will follow in 2017. CBS plans to cut ads by 25% for those shows, leaving paying streaming viewers with about 12 minutes of ads to watch per hour.

To draw attention to the streaming service, CBS will air the pilot episode of “Star Trek: Discovery” on the broadcast network, but episodes after that will be exclusively available online.

CBS is planning to introduce other streaming-exclusive series through All Access with four new shows for 2017 and more beyond that.

CBS wouldn’t say how much it might charge for ad-free viewing.

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