Listening to CBS’ quarterly earnings call with analysts Thursday evening, one could almost forget that the company was built around a broadcast TV network.
The network, in the midst of a lawsuit with its majority shareholder and sexual harassment allegations against its CEO, instead put its focus on streaming video -- or as CEO Les Moonves called it, “the key to our success.”
CBS said its CBS All Access and Showtime streaming services would reach a combined eight million subscribers in 2019, a year earlier than expected. The company now projects to have 16 million paying subscribers by 2022 -- not counting international subscribers, likely to only add to that pot.
“In other words, we plan to double our original goal inn two additional years,” Moonves said on the call.
CBS’ OTT approach is two-pronged. While CBS All Access and Showtime are driving subscriptions, the company has been busy launching free streaming channels like CBSN, CBSN Local and CBS Sports HQ as well.
The next streaming channel, ET Live, will launch in the fall, per Moonves, who noted: “There is many more of these we could potentially do." And "all of these ad-supported streaming services can ultimately be bundled with All Access and Showtime OTT in one comprehensive OTT platform.
The call also reaffirmed the central role that Amazon is playing in the OTT video market. With its wealth of data, Amazon has been
using its Amazon Channels platform to drive subscriptions to various OTT services. CBS All Access joined Amazon Channels in January, and on the call, Moonves said it was “absolutely amazing in
terms of growing our subs. I would say we get more through them than with any of our [other] partners."
Ultimately, the future of CBS remains cloudy, with Moonves' harassment allegations still being investigated, and with the lawsuit against parent company National Amusements pending.
One thing is clear, however. The company sees its future in OTT.
“This is the path the world is moving toward,” Moonves told the analysts on the call.