Executives at CBS had a message for their competitors, at TV’s upfront week nears its conclusion: Welcome to the world of streaming, the water’s fine.
Indeed, while Disney, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal won’t have their biggest launches in streaming video until late this year or early next year, CBS is already a veteran of the streaming wars.
“Here at CBS, we aren’t crawling into the streaming space, we are already running,” CBS ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross told the crowd at Carnegie Hall, adding that “we have been ad supported since we started [in streaming] five years ago.”
Disney’s Disney+ product will be ad-free, at least at launch, with WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal’s ad-supported streaming offerings not coming until 2020. CBS currently has four ad-supported streaming services on the market: CBS All Access, its entertainment and live TV offering, CBSN, its news service, CBS Sports HQ, its sports service, and ET Live, its entertainment news and celebrity streaming service.
The company is expanding those offerings, bringing locally focused CBSN services to New York and Los Angeles, with other cities to follow.
It was a mark of differentiation for the broadcast TV giant, which has was once deemed old-fashioned.
“We are committed to broadcast television, and we have our foot planted firmly on the gas to a direct-to-consumer future,” the company’s head of content David Nevins told the crowd.
CBS also sought to differentiate itself from digital giants like Facebook, and YouTube, which continue to have brand safety issues.
“No matter what you choose [linear TV or streaming], you are always appearing alongside content that is brand safe and brand enhancing,” Ross said Wednesday.
The company used its upfront to announce new details about upcoming shows for CBS All Access, including the name of its hotly anticipated Star Trek spinoff, "Star Trek: Picard," which will see actor Patrick Stewart reprise his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.