Talking tech since 2003

Hot on the heels of HBO announcing its plans to launch a stand-alone streaming service next year, network television mainstay CBS announced its own streaming service, becoming the first major broadcast network to break free of a cable TV package. Priced competitively at $6 a month, CBS All Access boasts over 6,500 episodes available to stream on demand from your computer, smartphone, tablet, or media device.

The offerings include classic shows like Frasier, MacGyver, Family Ties, and the entire run of Star Trek (to which CBS owns the television rights, and as of now is still available on Netflix as well). On top of that, subscribers can watch full seasons of current primetime shows like The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, and 60 Minutes. Users will also have access to live television broadcasts from 14 local stations around the country, including major markets like New York, Chicago, and LA, as well as somewhat smaller markets including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, and Denver, to name a few (the full list is right here).

As of now, there are still no live sports broadcasts available via the streaming app – likely a result of pre-existing contracts between the major sports leagues and cable companies. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen eventually. The fact that CBS is making this kind of a bold move signals what we’ve all been waiting years for: the changing paradigm of how media is offered and consumed.

Networks know that piracy is a free and easy way to avoid keeping up with live TV and get around commercials. Failing that, plenty of users are content to binge watch seasons they missed when they come to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Why should CBS miss out on that revenue? Launching this app is a great way for CBS to capture a potentially huge audience that’s willing to pay a small fee to get the content they want. Users who watch current television programs via the app will have to watch some advertisements, but the TV Classics library will be ad-free. Altogether, CBS will collect subscribers’ money, as well as the money of advertisers, and won’t be saddled with the terrible service and business practices of cable companies. There may come a day when app subscribers enjoy exclusive, original content that’s been freed from broadcast standards and censorship.

In short, the shift in the entertainment industry is finally starting to make the huge change that started with Netflix five or so years ago. I can’t wait for the rest of the broadcast networks to follow suit.

[CBS All Access]

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