Another day, another blow to the classic cable television model -- albeit from a seemingly unlikely source.
Following news yesterday that HBO will begin offering an Internet-only subscription service next year, CBS launched a new digital subscription service of its own called CBS All Access, available now on the network's site and apps for iOS and Android.
For $5.99 a month, users can livestream 14 local CBS affiliates (CBS is the first broadcast network do something like this with its signal), watch episodes of 15 current primetime series the day after they air, and view past seasons of shows like Survivor, as well as older CBS properties like Cheers and Twin Peaks, which is being revived on sister network Showtime in 2016.
Every new fall TV season, jokes abound about CBS erring on the side of staid in its programming and having a somewhat graying core audience -- but between tent poles like The Big Bang Theory, the multiplying legal franchises of NCIS and CSI, and the award-winning, critically-acclaimed The Good Wife, television's "most-watched network" routinely rides high in ratings.
In the case of HBO, when you consider the frequency of HBO Go password sharing and that Game of Thrones has the distinction of being the most pirated show ever, the move makes a great deal of sense. But why CBS? This could certainly be the network's answer to what it can do for a younger-skewing cord-cutting audience, who don’t feel the need to pay up for the traditional cable package.
In the streaming game, CBS has long played its cards a little close to the vest. It 2009, its video portal answer to Hulu, TV.com was up and running but it wasn't quite as well-reviewed. The network only launched a full episode streaming iOS app last year, and held out for a few years before partnering with Hulu (which started with ABC, NBC and FOX on the ground floor), only beginning to offer part of its content library to HuluPlus subscribers in 2012.
When advertisers have even taken to gas station TV to reach people, it all comes down to finding the best way, any way, to connect with viewers in an ever-fracturing media environment.