CBS is one of a number of broadcasters enraged that Internet TV startup Aereo is still in business. At one point, the company said that it would discontinue its over-the-air broadcasts if Aereo was permitted to keep operating. Aereo, as many will recall, allows users to stream TV to their computers and mobile devices for $8 per month, and it skirts standard licensing fees by pulling free TV transmissions out of the air with physical HD antennas and then piping them over the web. While broadcasters have sued the startup in an effort to shut it down, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’s recent comments suggest he doesn’t think his company would really suffer at all if Aereo wins in court. More →
Apple CEO Steve Jobs approached CBS approximately one year ago in an attempt to secure a content deal for a streaming television service that was in development at the time. CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves publicly spoke of the negotiations once before during an earnings call late last year, and now he is quoted again after having reportedly discussed the matter on stage during a presentation at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium. “I told Steve, ‘You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business,’ ” Moonves said according to Hollywood Reporter. Moonves said he denied Jobs access to CBS content for the service out of fear it might disrupt CBS’s existing revenue streams. Apple is reportedly still working on a unique streaming TV service that it intends to launch alongside an Apple-branded HDTV later this year. Some reports suggest the service may treat channels like apps, allowing users to subscribe to individual channels or groups of channels a la carte. More →
Amazon and CBS have reached a licensing deal in which CBS will provide Amazon Prime subscribers with access to its television shows.The deal will add 2,000 TV episodes from popular shows such as The Tudors, Medium, Frasier, Cheers, Numb3rs, and the full Star Trek franchise to the Amazon Prime library, which already has more than 8,000 movies and TV shows. Amazon expects the content to be available during this summer and it confirmed that its Instant Video customers will also have access to the library. Read on for the full press release. More →
CBS confirmed today with Dow Jones that it will pull some of its Showtime television shows from Netflix, and apparently Netflix is pretty shocked by the news. A Showtime spokesperson said that it will remove the episodes of shows that are currently still airing on television from Netflix’s portfolio when the current partnership deal between the CBS and Netflix ends this summer. “We’re perplexed by this,” Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesperson told Dow Jones. “We have great Showtime shows available on our service, and we expect to continue with those shows. We have a very good relationship with CBS and all its channels.” Two popular shows that are currently offered by Netflix and are still airing are “Californication” and “Dexter.” As big “Californication” fans here at BGR, we’re pretty bummed by the news. More →
Netflix on Tuesday announced a new deal with CBS that will bring shows from the CBS library to Netflix’s portfolio of streaming content. The news comes on the same day Amazon finally debuted its new streaming video service for Amazon Prime members. Netflix and CBS did not disclose the terms of the deal, saying only that it will bring CBS content to Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” service for the next two years. CBS also has an option to extend the deal for another two years. Content covered by this new deal includes episodes of new shows such as Medium and Flashpoint, as well as full seasons of shows like Frasier and Cheers. “We are thrilled to be bringing CBS shows to Netflix and are looking forward to growing our relationship over time,” Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “Netflix is now the only online premium subscription service with shows featured on all four broadcast networks and dozens of cable TV’s biggest brands.” Hit the break for the full press release from Netflix. More →
CBS-owned Last.fm announced on Monday that it will soon discontinue its free ad-supported streaming music service for cell phones and home entertainment devices. Last.fm is a custom Internet radio service that competes with the likes of Pandora and Slacker Radio. The service currently streams to computers, to cell phones and to various home entertainment devices such as DVD players and set-top boxes, with two available subscription models — a free ad-supported version and an ad-free version for $3 per month. As of February 15th, free streaming to mobile devices and to home entertainment devices will be shut off, with the exception of Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7 devices, and only paid subscribers will be able to utilize the service. Delivering ad-supported streaming services to mobile and other non-PC devices is not practical, Last.fm stated in a blog post, so the company will no longer offer the option. Free ad-supported streaming to Last.fm’s website will remain, however, as will free streaming to the Last.fm desktop PC app. The shift in strategy now creates a new speed bump for the service, as Last.fm’s biggest competitors will continue to offer free streaming options for mobile and other devices. More →
What’s the deal network television? No love for Google TV? Major broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC have already put a software block in place preventing Google TV appliances from accessing their content, and now it seems like Fox is joining the party with its own anti-GTV stance. Blog gtvhub is reporting that basic cable network Fox is blocking access to its online streaming-video content from Google TV devices. Seems pretty lame to us. What do you think, does this affect the utility of Google’s TV software? More →
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is in “advanced talks” with News Corp., CBS Corp., and Walt Disney Co. to allow iTunes users to rent their programming for 99-cents an episode. The report reads: “The content deals would give Apple users access to some of the most-watched shows on TV and increase the appeal of its devices [...] Added programming also would build on iTunes’ role as the biggest retailer of music and mobile applications, and help Apple ward off companies like Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., which offer their own online video services.” The move is being billed as “smart” by RBC Capital analyst David Bank, who states that rental service opens new opportunities without upsetting the “existing ecosystem.” The idea of a la carte TV does sound appealing… although we would miss live sports. What do you think? Could you replace your cable service with a per show type system, or would you miss surfing all 800 channels? More →
Two of the biggest names in the new wave of personalized internet radio, Pandora and Last.fm, have announced new mobile offerings this week that are sure to please subscribers. For those who aren’t familiar with these services, we’ll give you quick rundowns: Pandora is a free ad supported service (with an ad-free subscription option) that delivers custom radio stations based on the tonal qualities of each song. The user starts by entering an artist or song and Pandora continues the stream with songs of similar musical quality as determined by a panel of 50 analysts who have spent years listening to and cataloging songs. Last.fm on the other hand, is a similar free service (with enhanced subscription option) but it has a much bigger focus on social networking. It creates custom stations with similar tracks like Pandora, but relies on socially-applied tags when offering up new songs.
As we near the end of 2008 and approach the holiday season, layoffs get harder and harder to swallow. No one wants to close out the year with workforce cuts but sometimes it’s just inevitable. Such is the case with CBS Interactive, which announced internally yesterday that it would be undergoing a reorg attached to what is rumored to be just south of 300 layoffs. While CBS has not announced yesterday’s move publicly, the layoffs were estimated to account for between 10 and 14 percent of its workforce. CBS Interactive properties include CNET, CBS.com, CBSSports.com, CBSNews.com, GameSpot, BNET, last.fm, TV.com and CHOW. Despite the fact that CBS Interactive’s combined traffic rose significantly in 2008 and its advertising has remained strong, those at the top have deemed yesterday’s cuts a necessity. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen but what’s done is done and our sympathies go out to all those affected. Hit the jump for the full internal email from CBS Interactive head Quincy Smith and CNET boss Neil Ashe.