CBS brings its ad-supported streaming service to Amazon Channels

CBS in the beginning of the year brought its streaming service for cord cutters, CBS All Access, to Amazon’s a la carte TV service, Prime Video Channels. At the time, however, only the higher-priced, $9.99 per month commercial-free subscription was offered to Prime members. At the time, CBS said its $5.99 per month ad-supported tier would arrive in the months ahead. It’s now making good on that promise with the launch of the Limited Commercials plan option on Amazon’s Channels.

The expanded availability of the more affordable version of the streaming service could help to boost its numbers, given Amazon’s reported impact on delivering over-the-top subscribers through the Amazon Channels platform.

A report from Digiday citing TV network sources even claimed that Amazon can account for anywhere from 25 to 45 percent of a company’s direct-to-consumer subscribers. (An earlier report that Amazon Channels could deliver as many as 55 percent of subscriptions has been disputed by a couple of networks, however. They said it’s a top driver, but that figure was too high.) Regardless, Amazon Channels is one of the only ways to really pick and choose your streaming subscriptions, as most other services are focused on “skinny bundles” where a small number of channels is wrapped up for around $40 per month.

CBS today says there are over 2.5 million CBS All Access subscribers, but declined to break out how many of those have come from Amazon. However, around the time of the original announcement in January, the company had also reported having 2 million All Access subscribers. Some portion of that subscriber base likely did come from Amazon, but maybe not as many as would have signed up had the lower-cost subscription been available at launch.

CBS recently said it believes it will have 4 million All Access subscribers by next year, and 8 million by 2022.

Many of those are drawn in by its flagship program, “Star Trek: Discovery,” whose new season won’t kick off until 2019. The company will also next year premiere a reboot of “The Twilight Zone,” in association with Jordan Peele’s (“Get Out”) Monkeypaw Productions and Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films.

It more recently announced Patrick Stewart would return to star in a new “Star Trek” series as Jean-Luc Picard, as part of its larger investment in expanding the “Star Trek” universe on its service.

The Limited Commercials version of CBS All Access is more like traditional TV as the programming is interrupted with advertisements. Amazon will not get a share of the ad revenue in CBS’s app, we understand.