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NAB: CBS Station Chiefs Ponder All Access Offer

Related: NAB Show 2015 Complete Coverage

A curious group of affiliates took in CBS’ All Access presentation in Las Vegas, and most came away intrigued about the opportunities in partnering with the network on the live streaming initiative. CBS announced recently that a dozen station groups were on board, representing 55% of U.S. households when coupled with CBS’ owned stations. But Michael Fiorile, affiliates board chairman, warned that it will be some time before full-scale buy-in occurs. “I’d characterize the meeting as positive, but affiliates are still learning what it’s about,” he said. “It’s a lot to comprehend.”

Affiliates have to make the investment in Syncbak, the platform driving the $5.99 a month service, to make it work. According to the blanket deal, stations get 59 cents per subscriber, which ramps up commensurate to the subscriber base. While the affiliates board has signaled that they’re pleased with the framework that was negotiated, station chiefs are penciling out the numbers to see if there’s money to be made.

The slogan at the closed 90-minute meeting at the Wynn read “Move Into Digital Together”, and the station partners were warm to the idea of working alongside the network to increase their collective reach. “There’s a lot of settling to do, but anything that increases distribution is a good thing,” said one senior group exec who asked to remain nameless.

Representing the network were Ray Hopkins, CBS president of television networks distribution, and Marc DeBevoise, executive VP and GM of entertainment, news and sports at CBS Interactive.

Steve Hammel, VP and general manager at Capitol Broadcasting’s WRAL Raleigh, was impressed by the presentation, and called the deal points “certainly very affiliate-friendly.” He suggested the group needs a bit more information before deciding to opt in. “We’ll take a look at it,” said Hammel.

Last month, Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. president and CEO, told investors that over 100,000 people had signed up for All Access. The topic will be further expounded on when the affiliates meet with the network during upfront week next month in New York.

“It was a substantive discussion,” said Ed Munson, VP and general manager of Meredith’s KPHO Phoenix. “I didn’t hear a lot of naysayers.”  

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.