CBS Eyes Showtime-All Access Skinny Package

CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves said the broadcaster is considering a lower-priced package of its CBS All Access online service and its standalone Showtime offering for consumers, adding that while so-called skinny bundles haven’t quite caught on with consumers, they are “inevitable.”

Moonves, speaking at the Deutsche Bank Technology, Media & Telecom conference in Palm Beach, Fla., said the company was mulling an offering that would offer both services at a discount to their current pricing. He gave no further details.

 CBS launched All-Access in October 2014, with shows from its content library as well as live network programming in cities where it owns and operates TV stations, for about $5.99 per month. The service has since expanded its live capabilities to include several network affiliates across the country. Moonves said that the network is negotiating with the National Football League to allow NFL games on the service in the future. The networks also is considering an ad-free version of the service – for an additional $4 per month and has been developing original programming for the service, including a new version of Star Trek scheduled for a January 2017 debut. 

Showtime launched its standalone online service in July for $10.99 per month. 

Moonves said while CBS All Access has been successful, “we haven’t pulled out all of the stops.”

“Next year it’s going to add substantially to our bottom line,” he added, especially in 2017 when it launches the Star Trek series, which he said is expected to be an “extraordinary success.”

Moonves didn’t say when the All-Access/Showtime combo would be available. But he did say that consumers are demanding more flexibility in programming packaging and eventually a provider will touch on the right combination of shows and pricing.

“Someone’s going to figure out how to do this and how to give people what they want to watch and it’s not for $100 a month, it will be for $35 or $39 dollars a month where you’ll really get the 12 to 15 or 18 channels that you care about. And not get the karate channel for 25 cents a month,” Moonves said. “That doesn’t make sense anymore.”  

Moonves also said that the consolidation wave among distributors won’t have any impact on CBS’ ability to extract retransmission consent fees. He added that while some disputes get a lot of attention, the vast majority of deals are done quietly.  

“What we have is something they [distributors] need,” Moonves said. “Our content makes them money, they make us money. They pay a fair price for our product. I think the system works really, really well.”