CBS CEO Forced To Admit Cheaper 'Skinny' TV Bundles 'Inevitable'

from the wake-up-and-smell-the-Millennials dept

CBS CEO Les Moonves hasn't always been a huge fan of change. The CEO likes to whine a lot about how the television landscape is shifting, whether that's the fact that Netflix doesn't have to share viewership numbers in the subscription streaming age, or the way Dish is giving users what they want with DVRs that automatically skip ads. Moonves is also a big fan of pouting and claiming CBS will pull all of its broadcast content off the air if the network doesn't get what it wants (a man, in a very nice suit, threatening to take his ball and go home).

But even the change-averse CEO this week was forced to admit that the industry can no longer charge hundreds of dollars for hundreds of garbage channels and continue to call that value and innovation in the face of streaming competition. For all his myopia, Moonves at least has acknowledged that the shift to so-called "skinny" bundles is "inevitable":
"You’ve heard the cliché over and over again, people are tired of paying for things they don’t want to watch. That’s finally going to change. Someone’s going to figure out how to do this and how to give people what they want to watch and it’s not for $100 a month, it will be for $35 or $39 dollars a month where you’ll really get the 12 to 15 or 18 channels that you care about. And not get the karate channel for 25 cents a month."
Somebody did try to do this named Aereo, and it was sued into oblivion by CBS and others for its trouble. Other companies like Verizon are also trying to do this, but have been sued by broadcasters for trying. So to be clear, CBS believes "somebody" needs to shake up the stale cable bundle, but it should be CBS that does it.

To Moonves' credit, CBS has done a lot more than other companies to try and embrace the streaming video revolution. CBS launched its own $6 a month "All Access" streaming service in 2014, and in 2015 followed HBO's lead and offered a standalone Showtime streaming platform for $11 a month. CBS is also battling with Facebook, Verizon and others for new NFL streaming rights, and is planning to relaunch a new "Stark Trek" TV series that will be made exclusively available to CBS streaming customers. CBS hopes to bundle all of this into one giant package that bypasses the cable industry entirely.

That's in notable contrast to broadcasters like ESPN, which has pretending that skinny bundle defectors are old, lame customers nobody wants anyway. Given ESPN benefits from having a channel many don't care about forcibly included in core cable lineups, it has been notably more aggressive in defending TV's status quo.

The problem CBS and other broadcasters will face is they continue to believe that streaming content exclusivity is the key to television's future, and that consumers have an unlimited budget to subscribe to dozens of streaming services to get the content they're looking for. The more fragmented content availability becomes, the more likely consumers are to avoid the hassle and cost of hunting and pecking through confusing and often shifting exclusivity windows -- and revert to piracy.

Filed Under: cord cutting, les moonves, skinny bundles, tv
Companies: cbs


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:17pm

    next thing you know, He will admit that video on demand, with a single world wide release is inevitable.

    Well I can dream can't I?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:29pm

    Canceling CBS

    We subscribe to CBS $6/month streaming and have for a while now. We are going to have to cancel because it has become unwatchable. About 50% of the time when it finishes the commercials during a break it will not return to the video and need restarting which includes all of the commercials again with another around 50% chance of continuing.

    We just cancelled Hulu because it wouldn't stream reliably either.

    Netflix and Youtube seem to be the only well known services who can manage to deliver, but so can plenty of little streaming channels. I don't know if our issues are those channel providers or interference in the pipeline.

    So, cavet emptor.

    OT: We don't do long term contracts anymore ever, because of difficulties terminating terrible services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:35pm

      Re: Canceling CBS

      I stopped Hulu a while back because of it. Seems that the commercials never had a problem loading but the video itself would have a problem and have to reload.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PlagueSD (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:52pm

      Re: Canceling CBS

      That's why I don't "Pay" for streaming services that have commercials. If I'm paying for it, why do I have to also watch commercials? I'll stick to Netflix.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:56pm

      Re: Canceling CBS

      We are going to have to cancel because it has become unwatchable. About 50% of the time when it finishes the commercials during a break it will not return to the video and need restarting which includes all of the commercials again
      Sir, what you call 'unwatchable' is what CBS calls 'a business model'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:35pm

    Stark Trek?

    A Star Trek/Ironman mashup? that sounds interesting!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vidiot (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 3:08pm

      Re: Stark Trek?

      Crap... I thought they were launching "Stork Trek". Now that would be reality TV worth paying for.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Harry Payne, 22 Mar 2016 @ 2:26am

      Re: Stark Trek?

      In the Mirror Universe episode, Tony Stark teams up with disabled psychic Bran Stark to fight the White Walkers...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 22 Mar 2016 @ 8:12pm

      Re: Stark Trek?

      In the mobile-device game Bitcoin Billionaire, one of the fake news-ticker articles refers to an upcoming Stark Trek movie, where the "Stark" appears to be a reference to Game of Thrones...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JBDragon, 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:43pm

    I hate so called Skinny Bundles just as much!!! It's really much of the same old. Far fewer channels for not much savings!!!!

    Where's a-la-cart? When can I pick each and every channel I want and create my own bundle?

    Why isn't there just a simple price guide.
    ABC - $1
    CBS - $6
    Syfi - $3
    ESPN - $10
    Home Shopping - $0
    BET - $.50

    Whatever. Maybe if you bundle up 10 channels you get a 10% discount! These channels can set whatever costs they want from FREE to infinity. If it's FREE people will sign up and if it's to costly, few will sign up. After all, all these channels are already getting paid from by AD's anyway, so they're better off being on the free to cheap end to get more viewers which in turn means you get more money for your ad's.

    THIS would be real change. Not this skinny bundle, same old crap!!! Quite frankly I think Cable company's get ripped off from thees Re-Transmission Fee's they have to pay to broadcast channels. Channels, anyone can get for FREE with a Antenna. Where a Cable company is gaining viewers to that channel to make more money on Ad's. Sounds like a scam to me!!!

    I got tired of playing this game and cut the cord 4 years ago and haven't looked back!!! All them broadcast channels I get for FREE with my Antenna. Record it all on my Tivo Roamio DVR now with Commercial Skip. Press of 1 button and Bam!!! Just skipped all of the commercials!!!! Watch in the family room and continue in my Bedroom with a Tivo Mini. Can commercial skip and everything else there. Zero monthly costs for me.

    I got turned onto another series that's on Netflix to watch called "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". The other one I was told about "The League" has been really funny. Plus second season of Daredevil is out now I need to watch, and so much more. 20 years ago, you may have needed all thee channels. Today? Not really. Of course you may get your content from a number of sources, so it's not as simple as one program guide on a Box. But if my almost 70 year old Dad who lives with me can handle it pretty good, it's not a big deal. I can see new shows coming from TIVO or any number of my TV program App's on my iOS devices. Like NextGuide!

    These day's there are options!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:49pm

      Re:

      Why not take it a step further and pay for the shows?
      Why pay AMC $8 a month and just go with $1.50 for The Walking Dead? (Totally random and imaginary numbers.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 3:01pm

      Re:

      A simple price guide would make it too easy. Nowhere to force things in, nowhere to account for hollywood, nowhere to scoff at the market and raise prices regardless...In short, its the thing the cable cos do not want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:46pm

    CBS has their app for $6 a month with commercials that I tried and din't work well. Hulu gives me virtually everything I might watch except CBS. Kodi then gives me the one or two shows from CBS I want to watch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 2:59pm

    CBS threatening to take it's content off the air?

    Oh God, PLEASE let it be so!

    I quit watching a few years back when they started whoring Microsoft Surface Tablets and Windows Phones. Trying to make it look like the characters, who are supposedly smart people, would use something that nobody is buying -- at any price. That just completely breaks the suspension of disbelief.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 3:38pm

      Re: CBS threatening to take it's content off the air?

      I wish they would too, but it's an empty threat, CBS will not pull OTA broadcasting because they really like the government subsidy money. Our tax monies should be going to better use.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ThatDevilTech (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 3:00pm

    I've said it once, I'll say it again...

    Kodi for the win. I can watch almost any show I want with no commercials, period. Yes there's a learning curve, but there's plenty of help out there on the web to get it figured out. We can watch any show, any time. And it's not a torrent but just straight web traffic.

    We have Kodi in the living room and Netflix in the bedrooms or anytime on a laptop or tablet. Haven't paid Dish or cable in years, except for the cable Internet that is thankfully not Crapcastic or TWC or the other big providers, so no caps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PRMan (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 3:05pm

    CBS - No need to pay the $6

    You can get the last 5 episodes for free on CBS.com without paying just like any other network website.

    I have used it to watch The Amazing Race and The Good Wife when I had problems with the recording (one a seized DVR with a forced reboot and the other severe rain fade during a rare California downpour). No sign up. Just watch with commercials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 3:18pm

    Screw streaming...

    With AT&T moth-balling their shitty DSL, and having no other options available to me, I can't stream anything (at least, nothing higher than 480p, which looks pretty shitty on my 70" 4k TV)

    In order to get my on demand "video fix" without satellite TV (which I also have, btw), I either have to buy shiny plastic discs, or download episodes like a pirate. Ironically, I can usually torrent an 720p episode in less time than the show takes to playback - and yet I can't stream at 720p without buffering. This always makes me wonder if there's something else at play here.

    Either way, fuck streaming video, it's wasteful (I can re-watch a downloaded video over and over without using more bandwidth), it's stupid (I don't actually "own" anything I'm paying for), and it doesn't work worth a shit unless you have plenty of bandwidth and a reliable connection (6mbit DSL yields about ~4.5mbit of downstream bandwidth, and it drops to ~1mbit or less at night when everyone gets home from work).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 22 Mar 2016 @ 11:40am

      Re: Screw streaming...

      Either way, fuck streaming video, it's wasteful (I can re-watch a downloaded video over and over without using more bandwidth),

      Bandwidth is a renewable resource.

      it's stupid (I don't actually "own" anything I'm paying for),

      That's not important to a lot of people, and if you watch it enough it's a lot cheaper to pay for Netflix than to buy everything you watch. Plus you don't have to store and find plastic discs.

      Of course if Netflix doesn't work at your house, that's all moot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whatever, 21 Mar 2016 @ 5:48pm

    No! Nooooooooooooo!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 7:20pm

    Karl, Aereo tried to do it by cutting out the content producers and making money selling access to something they didn't pay for. The model was not sustainable. So pointing to them as a "great new model" is pretty dishonest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 9:22pm

      Re:

      Aereo just offered over the air television antennae installation and monthly billed maintenance service.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 22 Mar 2016 @ 5:06am

      Re:

      Wrong. Aereo did everything they could to follow the law while providing a valuable service to their customers and even by being very careful they got sued out of existence. It was sustainable. It was perfectly fine. But even if you consider it wasn't, they tried to go the cable operator venue and were BLOCKED, CENSORED, DESTROYED by the incumbent players with the help of some clueles ducks. Or courts whatever it is now.

      The episode was beyond shameful to the US.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2016 @ 7:28pm

    Long ago got fed up with it. I'm not going to watch commercials and pay for it. I dumped my tv when they went to digital broadcasting. I'm not looking to buy another. I've saved a lot of money over the years. I can't tell you what shows are on, what they deal with (as far as comedy or fiction) and really don't care.

    Programming was headed to the trash bin as fast as it could go then and from what I hear hasn't gotten better. They can keep the PPV and OTA, it is no longer worth my time to watch subpar programming given to you as a vehicle to serve you ads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    shane (profile), 22 Mar 2016 @ 8:17am

    Actually

    Access to everything in the world should be part of the existing internet.

    So we should be having our cake and eating it too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2016 @ 11:55am

    Les Moonves. This is the same greedy prick who was all chuffed about how much money he (and CBS) were making off the moronic 'debates' and Trump (Il Duce) coverage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, 24 Mar 2016 @ 11:06am

    There seems to be this misconception that...

    ... all consumers are impatient and must need content as soon as it is ready. Heck, if a person is patient enough, a movie or show will be available on DVD/Blue Ray in a few months, and then available via a public library, local store, or via eBay - to be enjoyed in the privacy of one's home and with previews that can be skipped at a touch of a couple of buttons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jaquer0 (profile), 30 Mar 2016 @ 11:35pm

    'Revert' to piracy???

    I'm amused by your comment that IF the media monopoly mafiosi requires us to subscribe to multiple cable-type services instead of just one, consumers will "revert" to piracy.

    I certainly will not. Although I was working to a cable TV news channel at the time, quite a few years ago I simply dumped cable TV. I firmly believe that if people haven't bothered to pirate a TV series, then it's not worth seeing (just like the cable news channels: there's a reason CNN and Fox don't get pirated).

    So I'll not be "reverting." I'll just be continuing to get payback for the decades they screwed me. What these brain-dead morons don't understand is that piracy is their *competition,* and over time it will only become easier and more convenient to get pirated content.

    When they offer an easier, more convenient, higher-quality product than the ever-so-kludgy pirate bay, they will be able to charge a premium for it. But they have to do it, because you can't compete on price with free.

    Victimizing people with anti-sharing campaigns will only get consumers mad, and disrupting file sharing patterns will only spur the development of more robust technologies, just as the killing of Napster led to Justin Frankel (of Winamp fame) developing gnutella. It's been two decades since the Cult of the Dead Cow started sharing mp3's on their web site, and trying to shut sharing music never worked.

    A good example of this is what is happening to music file sharing. Individual songs are no longer shared, nor are many albums, except perhaps for the hottest, newest hit. But usually it is simply so much easier to go to amazon or itunes or wherever to get your music. And, sure, much of it is on YouTube and easily ripped, but for most people in countries like the USA, why bother just to save 99 cents and lose the convenience of cloud storage and so on? And for those for whom 99 cents does make a difference, I'm glad stream ripping is there, just like AM radio was when I was a teen in the 1960s.

    The net result on the evolving music scene is that although until a few years ago I'd not paid one cent to the music monopoly mafia in this century, now I do.

    Until the tv series producers learn the same lesson, I'll keep on supporting the competition to the media monopoly mafia. If they ever get it right, *then* I might "revert."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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