New CBS All Access joins streaming-service trend, but many strings are attached

cbs all access

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When it rains, it pours. Just yesterday, HBO announced plans to offer a standalone, cable-free streaming video service in 2015, and on Thursday, CBS followed in it footsteps by revealing CBS All Access, a $6 per month streaming video service revolving around the broadcaster’s shows.

CBS All Access offers a smattering of different content types. The full current season of 15 different (unnamed) prime time shows will be available, though only eight current series will have past seasons available for viewing. “More than 5,000” episodes of “CBS classics” like Cheers, Star Trek, and MacGyver will also be available.

CBS specifically mentions the classics will be ad-free. Yes, streams of the newer shows will include ads, even though you’re paying $6 per month for the All Access service. Laaaaaaaame.

A subscription will also let you live-stream local CBS broadcasts in 14 major markets, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. You also get some extra features for live events like the Grammy Awards and Country Music Awards, as well as a live 24/7 feed of Big Brother’s house cameras.

cbs all access laptop

Not all CBS content will be available to stream, however, no matter what the service is called. Variety reports that previous seasons of The Big Bang Theory won’t be on All Access, as its rights are controlled by Warner Bros. You won’t be able to watch NFL games either. Sorry, cord cutters.

Android and iOS versions of the CBS App are available, and you can stream shows on the CBS website as well. The service went live today, and you can check the availability of live local affiliate streaming on the sign-up page. CBS is offering new users a one-week free trial to the service.

And this is only the beginning: CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told The New York Times that a similar streaming offering for the CBS-owned Showtime will be likely in the "not too distant future."

The story behind the story: It’s no surprise that traditional TV companies are scrambling to embrace streaming. A recent ComScore survey revealed that a full quarter of all millennials are cord cutters. But these standalone services from CBS, HBO, and Showtime hint at a potentially bleak future for streaming video—one where TV broadcasters and content producers offer their own streaming solutions rather than embracing catch-alls like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The scenario’s even more grim when you consider coverage gaps forced by tricky TV rights, like CBS All Access’ lack of NFL games and The Big Bang Theory.

À la carte TV sounds wonderful, until you have to wrangle subscriptions for umpteen different services and wind up paying as much as you would for a cable subscription. Here’s hoping things don’t shake out that way—but it's still great to see big TV players start paying attention to cord cutters.

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