After a long, arduous negotiation, CBS will bring National Football League games to its over-the-top streaming platform, CBS All Access, beginning Sunday.
That, combined with the recent news that the NFL is terminating its early-morning London games shown on Yahoo, could reflect the NFL’s changing attitudes toward its distribution strategy. Already the NFL has denied reports that it will discontinue Thursday games in order to avoid oversaturating the market.
But CBS’ OTT platform is already outperforming even without NFL games, according to Jefferies equity analyst John Janedis. “CBS All Access traction to date has exceeded our expectations,” Janedis wrote Wednesday in a research note to investors. “We think the addition of the NFL, as well as original programming, will drive further penetration in '17 and beyond.”
CBS All Access launched about two years ago.
The entire NFL package will cost CBS less than $10 million per season, Janedis estimated, taking into consideration viewership assumptions. CBS All Access is available for $5.99 per month, or $9.99 per month without commercials.
“Adding the most watched programming on television, to the most watched network on television, will be a powerful combination as we continue to grow CBS All Access into the future,” said Leslie Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS in a statement.
CBS is already driving a hard line in talks with Dish and AT&T’s DirecTV on making CBS (and Showtime) available on non-CBS OTT products, suggesting that the company may be committed to independently reaching viewers with original content. AT&T launched its streamed service DirecTV Now this week, without a deal to include CBS, though some anticipate that the network will eventually join.
Subscribers to CBS All Access will be able to stream all NFL games shown on CBS as well as live pregame and halftime coverage, and can sample content from NFL Game Pass, the NFL’s digital video subscription service that makes games and other programming available on-demand. Starting next season, the deal also allows CBS All Access and eligible pay TV subscribers to stream games and related content on NFL digital properties. CBS All Access subscribers have access to more than 8,500 on-demand TV show episodes.
“Bringing the NFL to CBS All Access is a very significant step in our digital strategy and provides additional value to our subscribers,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and COO of CBS Interactive, in the statement. “We look forward to a terrific 2017 for CBS All Access with the NFL and the launch of our new original programming.”
CBS executives in August disclosed that the company is making around $100 million in revenue off both its Showtime and CBS All Access SVOD platforms, and that they have surpassed 2 million subscribers, evenly split across the two offerings.