On the heels of this morning’s news of a deal that brings CBS channels to AT&T’s DirecTV Now, the network this afternoon announced its plans to expand its own streaming service, CBS All Access, to international markets. The expansion will begin with a launch in Canada in the first half of next year, with other markets to follow. CBS also teased plans for a live-streaming sports service, but was light on the details.
In the shift to streaming, CBS had been a holdout among the major broadcasters when it came to doing business with Hulu, the streaming service jointly owned by NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox, and Disney’s ABC. Instead, it focused on building its own, over-the-top product, CBS All Access, which combines on-demand streams of current and past shows with live TV feeds from affiliates.
That strategy of building its own products, including Showtime’s over-the-top service, is paying off, it seems. The company had earlier forecasted it would have 8 million subscribers for CBS All Access and Showtime’s direct-to-consumer products by 2020. And now, the company his saying it’s ahead of schedule on meeting that goal – it will have over 4 million subscribers combined by year-end.
“CBS All Access is growing faster than we anticipated domestically, and now represents a whole new opportunity internationally as well,” said Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS, in a statement about today’s news. “By going direct-to-consumer around the world, we will facilitate new connections between the global audience and our industry-leading premium content,” he added.
However, the international version of CBS All Access will not have one of its flagship shows: “Star Trek:Discovery.” The company inked a deal with Netflix to carry the new Star Trek series overseas in 188 countries, and Bell Media’s Space channel and over-the-top service CraveTV in Canada. That could limit the demand for CBS All Access outside the U.S., to some extent.
In addition, though it has its own streaming product, CBS recently has been making a number of “skinny bundle” deals with the newer crop of live TV services aiming to replace cable, including the above-mentioned DirecTV Now, as well as Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, and fuboTV. But these services are more like cable replacements, as opposed to direct competition for All Access.
The company also announced during earnings that the company is now planning to introduce a 24/7 live streaming service for sports, modeled on its streaming news service, CBSN. It may also use CBSN infrastructure to keep costs down. However, there weren’t a lot of details unveiled about the forthcoming sports service at this time, even a name.