CBS Announces Its Own Live TV And Streaming Service, CBS All Access

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On the heels of yesterday’s news that HBO is planning a standalone streaming service, CBS announced this morning that’s it’s preparing to debut a streaming service of its own, called “CBS All Access.” The new subscription-based service will begin offering live streams from 14 of CBS’s largest markets (and soon, more), plus full seasons of 15 prime time TV shows after they air, as well as past seasons of 8 popular series (e.g., The Good Wife, Blue BloodsSurvivor, etc.).

The service also includes free access to over 5,000 “classic” TV shows from its back catalog like Star Trek, Cheers, MacGyver,Twin Peaks, and CSI:Miami, and access to exclusive special events like the The Grammy Awards, The Academy Of Country Music AwardsThe Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more.

Some of CBS’s older content is already available on other streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, but it likes to keep its newest shows and episodes to itself where they’ve been made available on CBS.com, CBS Audience Network partner sites and through the CBS app. (For example, you can watch older seasons from The Good Wife on Hulu and Amazon, but not on Netflix.)

With the debut of CBS All Access, non-subscribers will still have access to the most recent full episodes of CBS shows on its sites, the company claims, but there will be an eight-day delay on mobile devices for primetime series.

Syncbak, which CBS has a minority investment in, powers the delivery of the live streams and handles the geo-targeting.

Meanwhile, the new subscription service was built with help from CBS’s 14 owned and operated stations, the company says. At launch, these 14 stations cover New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Now that the service is live, CBS says it’s working to add its affiliates to that list, too.

The pricing is competitive with other streaming services at $5.99 per month. (For comparison’s sake, Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming begins at $7.99/month.) But consumers may balk at pay $6 monthly for what they see as plain ol’ network TV. CBS may have several hit shows on its hands right now, with popular fare like The Big Bang Theory, CSI, David Letterman, 2 Broke Girls and more, but few of its shows would be considered as being of the same quality as the more cinematic fare that HBO and other premium and cable networks produce today, like Game of Thrones – or even Netflix’s House of Cards, for example.

CBS All Access is available starting today at CBS.com and on mobile devices through the CBS App for iOS and Android. The company plans to bring it to more “connected devices” in the future, which could hint at game console distribution, or even apps on TVs or boxes like the Roku.

“With video consumption habits changing all the time, it is very important that we continue to provide the best local news, entertainment and sports via a service like CBS All Access,” said Peter Dunn, President, CBS Television Stations, in a prepared statement. “Television stations have been the fabric of local broadcasting for 75 years, and today’s announcement is part of paving the way for the next 75. We are extremely pleased to be a part of this exciting new service, and look forward to reaching a whole new set of viewers in our major markets across the country.”