CBS’s Great Streaming Experiment Is Working

With 2 million subscribers split between the CBS All Access and Showtime services, the network is showing TV's old guard how to evolve

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Jul 29, 2016 at 12:04 PM ET

With the revelation that its standalone streaming service—the first to be offered from a major network—has a million subscribers on board, it appears CBS is the first major network to thrive in the age of cord-cutting. Even more promising for CBS is that, according to the numbers, the service is showing no sign of slowing down—something which should be scaring the crap out of cable TV providers.

In addition to its success with CBS All Access, which launched in October 2014 and offers a mix of live and on-demand programming, the network has another million subscribers using its standalone Showtime service, which arrived in July 2015. What’s more is that this prosperity isn’t coming at the expense of revenue for CBS: All Access costs subscribers $6 a month, while Showtime’s premium offerings are available for a slightly higher $9 a month. According to Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, “That’s well ahead of where we’d thought we’d be this early in the game.”

The fact that customers have been so quick to pay for a la carte live tv that’s delivered over the internet is signaling a turning point in how people want to consume their television. To be certain, part of CBS’s success is the result of arriving early to the party. (HBO Now and WWE Network, which started livestreaming special events through its app in mid-2014 and now has just under two million subscribers, are the other shining examples of companies that broke away from TV’s status quo and found success.) But as more networks start to take notice of the shifting tide, we now find ourselves inching closer towards the end of expensive cable subscriptions.