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CBS Invades Canada: Launching Its All-Access Pass Service North of the Border in 2018

Phillip Dampier August 8, 2017 Canada, Competition, Consumer News, Online Video No Comments

CBS All Access is coming to Canada, bringing nearly the entire lineup of CBS shows and features north of the border.

The service will launch in Canada in the first half of 2018, followed shortly thereafter in other countries in “multiple continents” according to CBS. CBS has not yet set prices for the Canadian market, but the price is expected to be comparable to the $5.99 and $9.99 (ad-free) options sold in the United States.

It isn’t known if CBS will also attempt to offer Showtime as an add-on abroad, but the network promises to include most of the 9,000 episodes of CBS and original programming available to Americans without annoying geographic restrictions for those abroad. Canadian viewers will also be able to watch CBSN, the 24/7 streaming news service developed by CBS News specifically for online audiences, as well as on-demand access to certain shows licensed by CBS but not seen on the network.

CBS All Access is available on smartphones, tablets, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Fire TV, and most major game consoles.

CBS, CW, Showtime, CBS Sports, and Pop Join DirecTV Now Lineup

Phillip Dampier August 8, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Online Video No Comments

DirecTV Now customers in 14 major TV markets will soon have live access to their local CBS and CW affiliates through the streaming service, with 30 additional ABC, FOX and NBC affiliates soon to follow in other cities.

“This is another key milestone in bringing DirecTV Now users access to their favorite entertainment, news and sports from all the major broadcast networks,” said Daniel York, senior executive vice president and chief content officer – AT&T Entertainment Group.

In “the coming weeks” DirecTV Now will also add on-demand access to CBS and CW programming for the benefit of those who live outside of a city where a live station stream will be available. The agreement with CBS includes Showtime ($8 per month), CBS Sports Network (available on packages starting with ‘Go Big’), and Pop (added to packages starting with ‘Just Right’). Customers who subscribe to Showtime on DirecTV Now can also use Showtime Anytime for on-the-go access.

Live streaming CBS and CW stations will initially be available to customers within these markets:

  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Dallas – Ft. Worth
  • San FranciscoOaklandSan Jose
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
  • Denver
  • SacramentoStocktonModesto, CA
  • Pittsburgh
  • Baltimore

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.”

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