CBS to offer $5.99/month stand-alone web subscription service

“CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription,” Emily Steel reports for The New York Times. “The new ‘CBS All Access’ service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States.”

“After much anticipation, this new era of à la carte TV has suddenly arrived — all at once and more quickly than many industry executives, observers and television fans had expected. And with it, the virtual monopoly that cable, satellite and telecommunications companies have had over TV programming is dissipating,” Steel reports. “Subscribers to ‘CBS All Access’ will be able to watch local CBS television stations in 14 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and San Francisco. More affiliates are expected to join. Available in all other United States markets beyond the initial 14 markets are episodes of current prime time shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘NCIS’ the day after they are shown, and more than 5,000 episodes of such series as ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Cheers’ and ‘MacGyver.'”

“In a notable carve-out, National Football League games will not be available on the service. CBS executives said they are now in discussions with the N.F.L. and that other live sports are already available for streaming. A similar service from Showtime, the premium cable network owned by CBS, is likely in the ‘not too distant future,'” Steel reports. “The service will be available on and mobile apps beginning Thursday. In the coming months, it will also be available on other devices that allow people to stream Internet video on their television screens, such as Apple TV, Roku and Google’s Chromecast… For the live stream, the ads will be the same as those on the traditional television broadcast. For the on-demand programming, the typical 12 to 16 minutes of ads an hour will be reduced 25 percent. CBS Classics — shows like ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Cheers’ — will stream without ads.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You know, it really has been way too long.

Today’s Apple event just got even more interesting!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David G.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
HBO to offer standalone Internet subscriptions, no cable/satellite required, starting next year – October 15, 2014


    1. People have been trying to explain that for years, but the a la carte crowd doesn’t want to hear it. The only way you’re going to save money in an a la carte TV future is if you have very narrow tastes and only need a very small number of channels.

      Also, isn’t CBS infamous as the favorite network for old folks? I’m kind of surprised they’re the first network to go internet, given that most of their viewers need their grandson’s help setting it up.


      1. You have a point and that is exactly what I thought when I saw the title. However, this cannot be compared the the single CBS channel you get over cable. This gives you on-demand access to thousands of current and past shows.

        First HBO. Now this. This is the beginning of a huge paradigm shift in TV programming.

      2. Why does everything have to be about saving money?

        Maybe for us a-la-carte people it’s about deciding who gets our money versus not having a say. I’d gladly pay double for my TV service if there were enough interesting shows that I wanted to watch and I knew for certainty that 100% of my money was going to only those shows/channels that I bought, not supporting hundreds of channels of crap.

        It’s not about saving a buck, it’s about rewarding good services and punishing bad services.

        1. because the young are the ones you can influence. as the demos skew older, ad effectiveness diminishes because, basically, they are already set in their ways. They already have their favorite brands.

          1. That is the theory, but in practice it is not so true. The Madison Avenue people tell you customers are set for life by 30 or so. I beg to differ.

            At 52 I have altered what brands I shop for over time as the quality of older brands may have changed and newer brands come into the market that offer a better product. I also buy a lot of gifts fora rather large and close knit extended family. I have bought a ton of MacBooks, Mac minis, iMacs, iPods, iPads, iPhones, Apple TVs as occasion, birthday or Christmas gifts. Not everything I buy is for me- I buy plenty of gifts for all ages.

            I have also helped young relatives with down payments on houses, overseas trips and such. Not many under 30’s have those resources while many my age do.

            People my age have more disposable income and are largely ignored. Our houses are paid for, the nest is empty and we are approaching our peak earnings potential. I am lucky enough to have had the resources to take 18 months off after my father died and just travel, relax and persue personal interests. Not bragging, but people my age have the money- not the teens and twentysomethings.

            It would be nice to go to the movies and watch a film not based on a comic book.

        2. Well, yeah, us oldsters have all the cash. But we don’t part with it as easily as young folks. We also don’t respond as well to advertising because we’ve already made our choices. I already have a favorite soda, cereal, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc., and commercials aren’t likely to change my mind.


    2. Yes, but only if you actually NEED all of them. I, for example, watch a lot of shows on CBS, but I don’t watch any on NBC or ABC.

      I’d wager most people watch about 5 channels total. If they’re each $6/month, that’s still way cheaper than a cable bill.

      1. My total monthly bill for triple play service is $120/month (includes HBO, Showtime & Cinemax as premiums).

        I just checked my bill online, if I take off all the cable services, my bill for my internet and home phone will be $75/month.

        It won’t take a lot of $6/month charges to end up running through that $45/month and being more expensive via a la carte.

        You also have to figure, that CBS just set $6/month as the standard network charge, HBO & Showtime are going to want more than that – maybe $15/month? What will Comedy Central, E!, TBS, CNN, etc. charge? $0.99/month? They have to charge something, if they lose all of their cable & satellite customers they won’t stay in business long giving it away for free to app customers.

        All those channels you’re currently getting on AppleTV for “free” usually require you to confirm you have a cable subscription first. They want you to verify that you’re already paying them. If you don’t have a cable subscription my bet is they suddenly won’t be “free” any longer.

        1. Well said goldndoodle. I am in exactly the same situation and do not see going to TV subscription services anytime soon.

          Out of curiosity, have you considered dropping the phone too and replacing your landline with just cellular service?

          1. My primary phones are all cellular. The home line included in the triple play acts as my fax line for work. Unbelievably, if I remove all the cable service and home phone line, my internet bill remains … $75/month.

        2. I get my DSL through an independent ISP ( I get domain hosting, email hosting, web pages, SQL DBs, and a Unix shell account along with my DSL for about $45 per month. I also get free human tech support via an 800 number during normal business hours. There’s no throttling and no East Indian customer service. I get my local TV stations with an antenna on the roof, 27 channels of real HD digital TV. I get movies and other premium content via Apple TV. I’d gladly pay $15 a month each for ESPN and HBO. And that would put me at the same $75 cost per month.

      2. I can quickly list 10 channels that I regurlarly watch (meaning there is at least one series that I watch on that channel). Lord Robin is right and I have been saying the same thing for decades. The cost of “information” will add up and create a class of information haves and havenots.

    3. Not really,
      I watch about 4 channels and my monthly cable bill is north of $130. 6×4 is a lot less than $130.

      Besides, I would’t pay $6 a month for CBS programming with commercials when I can hang an antenna outside the window and not watch it for free. Get rid of the commercials and maybe I’ll pay a buck a month for CBS. I’ll give $10 for Showtime- they can keep the broadcast shit.

      1. Maybe they could try program sponsors, like PBS, and make the content interesting, instead of the near constant bombardment of the same thing to the point where you have to tune it out, or go crazy. Less can be more, to ruin a phrase.

        $6.00 a month to subsidize content I don’t & won’t watch is still too much. So much per show, or x amount for a set number of selections … ?

        Had cable in its early days, when the major three mostly seemed to rotate the same shows between them on a monthly basis. Left, and haven’t missed cable since, when they started playing commercials in the movies. My feeling was, and still is, if I’m paying for a subscription service, why was I paying to watch commercials.

  1. Cable and telecommunication companies will still have a stranglehold on us until there are multiple ways to access the internet. If we get TV from other sources then they will just up internet access fees to compensate. We’ll end up paying more. Once there is true competition in all areas of the US for internet access then we’ll see more competitive prices.

    1. There are multiple ways. Broadcast, your cable pipe, your copper phone pipe and your wireless pipe, either as part of cell phone service or stand alone. Some cities are getting fiber to the home as a stand-alone utility (as it should be).

      Yesterday cellular providers couldn’t capture your TV programming, today they can (at least some of it). That puts cable bandwidth in direct competition with wireless bandwidth. This is a good thing. May the dumb pipes reign.

  2. Way too expensive. You could have Netflix for one dollar more than that. I’m not paying $6 for one freaking channel. Their crappy shows are all on for free anyway.

  3. There is good competition for channels. I would like to see more competition on fast broadband. I have cable as my ISP, but only because all the other choices are TOO slow. I would like to see Google fiber or Verizon fiber as an option.

  4. here is my narrow interests:
    One of CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox
    and all of the following Foxnews, NFL, MLB, SEC football, and the Discovery and History Channel.

    I’d be very happy with just those 7 channels. Obviously the kicker in that group is the NFL. They know this.

  5. How could internet subscription TV be coming faster than manyindustry executives expected, since they were the ones who had to sign off on the agreements to make it happen?

        1. Still scratching my head…

          Unless the subsctription model that is starting “suddenly” will quietly be able to allow Apple TV to function (direct beam?) as a super hi res TV via the amazing new 5K iMac…

          Maybe Apple’s just ‘not’ spoon feeding it…?

  6. Not a chance in hell I’m paying $6/month to watch commercials. Especially not for an over the air broadcast I can get for free. If I really want to pay for it, I’ll buy a show or season on iTunes and not watch commercials. What would really seal it for me, would be the ability to rent a season through iTunes for about half the cost of buying it.

  7. The law of supply and demand state that prices will move towards equilibrium once in the market place. I wouldn’t expect 5.99 to be the price you see for all channels in the market place. The fact that a la carte is going to be offered is the paradigm shift.

  8. From the CBS announcement:
    “Full current seasons of 15 primetime shows with episodes available the day after they air.”
    means: not all shows

    “Full past seasons of eight major current series”
    means: not all shows

    “Advertising-free environment for all CBS Classics”
    means: advertising embedded in current series

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