Cablevision Becomes First Pay TV Provider To Distribute CBS And Showtime Over-The-Top To Broadband Customers

Following a similar move which saw it becoming the first internet service provider to distribute HBO NOW to its broadband customers, New York-area cable TV company Cablevision announced this morning that it will offer its internet customers the ability to subscribe to CBS’s over-the-top TV services, including CBS All Access and Showtime without an accompanying pay TV subscription.

The deal was forged in the wake of the two companies’ updated, multi-year agreement, which also saw a renewal of Cablevision’s carriage of Showtime, the CBS Sports Network and the Smithsonian Channel on its cable TV service.

A number of traditional pay TV providers are attempting to figure out how to shift their businesses to support the growing streaming video trend, which sees a number of current customers “cutting the cord,” while other – often younger – customers never sign up for pay TV in the first place (the “cord-nevers”), in favor of using online services like Netflix.

Some companies, like Dish Network with Sling TV, Comcast with its upcoming service Stream, or Verizon (disclosure: AOL/TechCrunch parent company) with its mobile video service Go90, are attempting to launch their own streaming platforms as a means of competing. Cablevision, on the other hand, is simply becoming a reseller of over-the-top streaming services, including as of this March, HBO NOW. And in April, it became the first pay TV provider to distribute Hulu to its broadband customers.

The new deal follows the same path as before. Cablevision’s “Optimum Online” customers will have the ability to subscribe to CBS’s over-the-top services, including CBS All Access and Showtime’s newly launched standalone offering.

CBS All Access, for those unfamiliar, is the network’s attempt at offering its TV programming on a subscription basis to internet users who don’t have a pay TV subscription. Launched in October, the service offers on-demand access to current and past seasons of some of its more popular shows (e.g. The Good Wife and Blue Bloods) as well as older programs like CSI:Miami and MacGyver. New episodes arrive the next-day, while other content is available for instant streaming.

In addition, CBS All Access, which is normally $5.99/month, has attempted to differentiate itself by offering live TV streams from its CBS-owned stations and affiliates around the U.S.

The company offers live TV coverage via the subscription service in 75 percent of the country, as of July.

The new agreement will also see Cablevision re-selling CBS-owned Showtime’s standalone streaming service, which just launched this June for $10.99/month. (Or $8.99/month on Hulu).


Of course, internet users could already sign up for either of these CBS-operated streaming services before Cablevision’s new deal, but it marks the cable TV provider’s continued push to become a reseller of online streaming services as the cable TV industry sees declining customer numbers.

According to recent data from eMarketer (citing the Leichtman Research Group), the 13 largest pay TV providers in the U.S., which represent roughly 95% of the market, together lost nearly half a million subscribers in Q2 2015. The loss of 470,000 subscribers in the traditionally weak second quarter exceeded the previous low-water mark of about 360,000 losses in 2Q 2013, the firm found. That means cable TV providers will continue looking for new ways to sustain their businesses in the online streaming era.

Cablevision says that pricing and launch details will be released at a later date.