CBS All Access is only as big as it needs to be

CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise (right) talks with Jon Watts at the NAB Show in New York. (FierceVideo)

NEW YORK – CBS All Access has more than four million subscribers. By 2022, CBS expects it to have 25 million combined with Showtime. It's big growth but that doesn’t mean CBS wants it to grow to the size of Netflix.

Marc DeBevoise, president and chief operating officer at CBS Interactive, said if All Access got too big it would run the risk of swallowing CBS’s broadcast network whole.

There’s good reason to protect the mothership. CBS has spent 11 consecutive seasons as the most-watched broadcast network in primetime. But that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have big plans for All Access.

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During the NAB Show in New York, DeBevoise used part of his keynote conversation to wish All Access a happy fifth birthday, but he said that it really started seven years ago, and took a lot of time to find the right balance of price and value to attract consumers.

RELATED: CBS says All Access, Showtime OTT will have combined 25M subscribers by 2022

Now All Access has grown into a varied offer that combines live TV access, a deep library, a lineup of ad-supported streaming networks and a growing slate of originals like “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Why Women Kill,” “No Activity,” “The Good Fight” and the upcoming “Star Trek: Picard.” DeBevoise said All Access has a big show scheduled for release every month and a tentpole event show for every quarter in 2020. He described it as building a premium network on top of a broader platform service.

Of course, CBS doesn’t want to infringe on Showtime with its All Access premium shows, so DeBevoise said the company is careful to not stray too far from the widely accepted CBS brand with its All Access originals.

“They’re not so far down the premium rabbit hole that you don’t recognize them as a CBS show,” he said.

While All Access is careful not to step on CBS or Showtime’s toes, DeBevoise said the service also won’t likely chase off any of its streaming competitors. He refuted the streaming wars narrative and said that there’s plenty of room for All Access and all the upcoming services from Disney, Apple, HBO, NBC and others.

But he did say that as these new services work to gain scale, they should be aware that subscriber acquisition and retention isn’t hard just because there’s a lot of competition out there: “It’s just hard.”

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