CBS COO: We ‘Cannibalize Up’ Cord Cutters

In an era of cord cutting and fragmentation of home entertainment and television distribution, CBS says its total viewership data has grown.

Speaking March 6 at The Deutsche Bank 2018 media, telecom & business services confab in Palm Beach, Fla., COO Joesph Ianniello said combining traditional pay-TV subscribers with online TV and direct-to-consumer has resulted in more total subs for CBS than a year ago.

“Not a lot of media companies can say that,” Ianniello said, adding CBS is available on the “broadest tier” of distribution channels.

With more than 5 million combined subs for its over-the-top video platforms (Showtime OTT, CBS All Access), the COO contends the services have “really taken off,” in addition to enabling CBS to sell content to new distribution channels at a significantly higher price than traditional MVPDs.

“So, the value proposition we think we’re bringing to [pay-TV] distributors is compelling,” Ianniello said.

Indeed, with increasing numbers of consumers shunning pay-TV for alternative channels, Ianniello says CBS is able to “cannibalize up” those consumers in the same way Internet Service Providers increase revenue by hiking up broadband access fees.

“If a consumer switches to YouTube TV or CBS All Access, each leg [or service] we get more money the way we’ve priced it,” he said.

Ianniello said the learning curve on OTT has been significant, contending premium channel Showtime never had a real subscriber until bowing an OTT platform.

Specifically, the executive said Showtime’s pay-TV distributor, in addition to third-party broadcast ratings tracking services such as Nielsen had all the consumer data.

“Now, [via OTT] we have perfect information in terms of consumption, what [subs] watch [and] how they watch,” he said. “It makes us smarter in our programing and [makes] advertising much more effective.”

CBS All Access, which costs $5.99 monthly with limited ads; $9.99 without, will launch upwards of seven original series in 2018, including a new season of “Star Trek: Discovery” and pending reboot of “The Twilight Zone” from Oscar-winner Jordan Peele (Get Out) – in addition to select live TV, NFL game telecasts and catalog programing.

“Netflix doesn’t do live,” Ianniello said. “Netflix doesn’t have the library we have. From a value perception, we’re feeling pretty good.”

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