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CBS All Access Could Doom CBS to Failure

Person-of-Interest-CBSAs Americans’ viewing habits change CBS seems to be the outlier in the race to reach viewers unlike many of its competitors that have decided to partner with services such as Hulu, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and even the new DirecTV Now service.

Where competitors such as Fox and ABC have jumped in with both feet CBS corporate has held back. (Although some independent CBS channels have joined services such as PlayStation Vue, CBS-owned channels have held back.)

CBS seems to be putting the future of the network on the back of their CBS All-Access service. Their hope seems to be that their content will drive millions of Americans to subscribe. The problem is this puts all of their hopes in one service.

Unlike competing services such as Hulu and even services such as Sling TV CBS All Access has a fraction of the content. Would you rather pay for CBS content or get access to Fox, NBC, ABC, and a host of other networks and movies with Hulu? Would you rather pay for Sling with live access to a range of channels or CBS All Access with one channel?

Here are a few areas CBS All Access fails to hold up to their competitors.


CBS All Access advertises 8,000+ episodes—not shows but episodes. Compare that to Netflix that recently had 4,335 movies and 1,197 shows. (A show can have anywhere from 10 to 22 episodes. If on average they have 15 episodes they could have over 17,000+ episodes. If they averaged just 10 episodes they would have 11,970 episodes.) That leaves you wondering if you are getting what you pay for with CBS All Access.


The second issue is the price. Starting at $5.99 for limited commercials or $9.99 a month for a commercial-free option it makes it hard to stand out against similarly priced services, especially when many Americans can get CBS over the air for free.

Why will this result in CBS’s failure?

CBS is playing a risky game here. Other networks have their content in multiple services allowing them to gain revenue even if you didn’t go to Hulu or Sling for Fox content. This diversification allows Fox and others to avoid potential revenue loss.

CBS is setting themselves up for a single point of failure by limiting the vast majority of their content to just one service at a high price.

If I had to pick one network at the greatest risk of failure right now it is CBS.

So what should CBS do?

CBS has two options. They could lower their price to a more reasonable $2.99 for CBS content with ads. This price would likely attract a much larger audience and bring in more revenue.

CBS could keep CBS All Access with their original shows such as the new Star Trek show and put other content on services such as Hulu and DirecTV Now. This would allow them to diversify their revenue and still get a premium price for their original shows.

Hopefully CBS will see there is a benefit to making their content more available to cord cutters without requiring them to pay a premium price for a small catalog of shows.

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20 Responses to CBS All Access Could Doom CBS to Failure

  1. Avatar
    Golfluvr13 November 3, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    Signed up for CBS All Access when we were having issues with our antenna. Promptly cancelled as soon as we got them resolved. No way I will give CBS extra money. They better wake up or they are going to see their viewership numbers dwindle.

  2. Avatar
    CX1 November 3, 2016 at 7:46 am #

    There was only a couple shows on CBS that I used to watch. After they started all access I stopped watching them all together.

  3. Avatar
    bobinc November 3, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    CBS does make a handful of shows that end up networks other than theirs so they are still getting revenue where ever other networks end up. Future plans could be to put shows only on All Access to drive traffic. I do agree though their pricing is off. They should also allow cable logins like other networks do.

  4. Avatar
    Jason Vermette November 3, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

    A TV show can have hundreds of episodes….

  5. Avatar
    Kimber Olli November 3, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    I get CBS over the air in full uncompressed HD and use a DVR for a few worthy programs. But you failed to mention that due to the current restrictions in place, NFL games broadcast on CBS are not shown on CBS All Access – that is a big deal breaker for many sports fans.

  6. Avatar
    NashGuy November 3, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

    They should make the last five episodes of their current season primetime series available as a $2-3 add-on for Hulu. Because it would make Hulu that much more attractive as a one-stop shop for cord-cutters, they could maybe get Hulu agree to pass nearly the full price of the add-on to CBS. CBS All Access could still exist as a niche service (which is all it will likely ever be) for those who want every current and past season episode of CBS shows, plus a small number of original online-only shows like the upcoming Star Trek revival.

  7. Avatar
    Craig Smith November 3, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

    Why pay for a free channel? Especially CBS! CBS was was on July years ago as one of the original owners with Fox and ABC. I didn’t watch CBS, so I really don’t care, but i find their plan to be pretty dumb especially considering they’re still making money from Ads. Their joint venture CW just left Hulu in favor of its own terrible stand alone app. But at least it’s free… But terrible. It’s the same issue I have with phones. I don’t want an app for everything.

  8. Avatar
    pmug November 3, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

    The worst part is that CBS is aimed at a much older crowd in general (think 60 Minutes) than the other OTA channels and seniors sure aren’t going to pony up for CBS All Access. The vast majority of them don’t even know what cord-cutting is. Many still have huge, blurry, standard def tv’s with rabbit ears. They just recently got HD converters so they can still watch on those tvs.

  9. Avatar
    Steve November 3, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    While I don’t know why cbs goes it alone and don’t necessarily disagree with this article, I do want to point out that KCBS-tv in Los Angeles is on PS Vue, so it’s not true that cbs owned stations aren’t available on that service. The one aspect of PlayStation vue that upsets me is that I have to pay $10 more a month for streaming local stations that I already get OTA by antenna.

    • Avatar
      Christopher Correira February 1, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

      From the article “Although some independent CBS channels have joined services such as PlayStation Vue, CBS-owned channels have held back”

  10. Avatar
    Susan November 3, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

    I refuse to pay for service that other networks offer at no charge…especially after they canceled one of my favorite shows, Person of Interest. I don’t watch many shows on CBS, but what few I watch, I normally watch “OnDemand”.

  11. Avatar
    Florence Catherine November 3, 2016 at 11:55 pm #

    I agree, pricing is not reasonable.

  12. Avatar
    stmcld November 4, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    Unless they were to add their Sports to the All Access package, it simply isn’t worth it IMO.

  13. Avatar
    Alan Hotchy November 7, 2016 at 7:43 am #

    Boycott this so called service please They need to be taught that we are ppl got got tired of the cable co’s ripping us off this is nothing more then an attempt to return to the ridiculous price of the big cable co’s If one gets away this they all will follow

  14. Avatar
    Jay Allen November 7, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    I signed up for this as a free trial. Been wanting to cancel but my wife likes the ability to go back and watch last run tv shows. I’m thinking of doing a tablo. What is everyone doing has a work around to get recorded content?

  15. Avatar
    Gregory Blajian November 8, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    $9.99/mo would not be so ridiculous if it included all of their other properties, e.g. CBS SN, Showtime, Flix, The Movie Channel, CW, Decades & Smithsonian and gave you access to all their live sports events commercial free. But in it’s current form All Access for that price is a joke. Tried the free trial last year but there was nothing compelling to watch that we could not get OTA with com skip (a better experience than streaming with commercials) using our Tivo Roamio [for which we are already paying $14.99/mo].

  16. Avatar
    Mark S January 15, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    I’ll wait for the new Star Trek to hit itunes. I’m not paying a monthly fee to watch 1 show.

  17. Avatar
    Greg Allen January 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm #

    I’ll join for a trial once the New Trek is completely released, then drop it after binging. Trek and Colbert aren’t enough to justify the purchase.

  18. Avatar
    Jim F March 29, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    I did the free trial to catch The Good Fight, and the show is excellent! I promptly cancelled as soon as my free time was up. Once all the episodes of Star Trek and The Good Fight are available I will sign up for one month, watch them, then cancel all access again.
    It’s amazing how so many people getting paid so much money could be this clueless about today’s tv watching habits. This will fail… hopefully The Good Fight and the new Star Trek get moved to regular TV before it does.

  19. Avatar
    Snail November 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

    I paid this for the first half of star trek. Will not continue to do so. First two episodes were amazing then after turned into an alright action show. Would watch but will not buy it. Very sloppy and clunky app. Not user friendly. Let’s face it, this is CBS. They are what they are and they want to be more than they are. I will intentionally not watch their channel on cable now. Lets be honest it’s not like I was watching it very much anyways. This put a bad taste in my mouth on how I look at them. They used to be there, now I don’t want them there.