CBS Updates OTT Plans

CBS has updated the roadmap for its over-the-top streaming video services, including the existing services CBS All Access, Showtime, CBSN and the upcoming services, CBS Sports HQ and an "Entertainment Tonight"-branded service.

Two years ago, CBS set a goal of having 8 million subscribers between its All Access and Showtime products by 2020. On Thursday, the company said that the two services now have nearly 5 million subscribers.

“That’s far beyond where we expected to be at this point and it gives us great confidence that we will more than exceed our goal,” CBS CEO Les Moonves said on the company’s earnings call Thursday.

While the company’s paid subscription products continue to bring in subscribers, CBS is also preparing to ramp up its free, ad-supported streaming services in a big way. CBSN, the company’s streaming news channel, is now profitable to the tune of “10s of millions of dollars,” according to CBS CFO Joe Ianniello, and it will be joined by CBS Sports HQ later this month, ahead of the March Madness college basketball tournament and The Masters golf tournament.



CBS Sports HQ “will provide 24/7 news highlights and analysis” in a different way, Moonves said, noting that the service would not show live games, but highlight sports content around the games. “We believe we can build a significant audience by launching an ad-supported free service with full mobile and on-demand capabilities.”

In the fall, the company will launch its "Entertainment Tonight"-branded streaming service, which will cover celebrities and Hollywood.

“There was a tremendous appetite in the marketplace for entertainment news. Here again, we’ll be taking advantage of our marquee brands and launching it on a new platform" to leverage "better economics and bring in new viewers,” Moonves said. “Plus, we can use CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and ET to cross-promote all of our direct-to-consumer services, converting viewers on our ad-supported platforms into paying subscribers.”

The company promised “more news along these lines in the quarters ahead” as it teased what else it has in store for OTT, including a potential global rollout of its suite of streaming networks.

It has been a significant year for CBS and its OTT products. The Grammy Awards and the debut of "Star Trek" significantly contributed to the subscriber bump, with the service nearly doubling in subscribers in one year.

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