First Look at CBS All Access and CBSN Live Streaming News Channel

CBS has joined the streaming game with its October release of the CBS All Access subscription service. Now that the online floodgates have opened for the network, it is not stopping with episodic TV. CBS has launched CBSN, a 24/7 live streaming news channel. In the company’s quarterly call to investors, CBS CEO Les Moonves announced plans to offer a Showtime subscription streaming service that will not require authentication from a cable/satellite provider. The Showtime service that will likely become available in 2015, follows on the heels of HBO’s announcement of a stand-alone version of HBO Go. Moonves said CBS is going after non-subscribers—cord cutters and those who have never had cable/satellite service. While CBSN is ad-supported and free, both All Access and the Showtime app will require monthly fees.

Previously, CBS made it difficult to access its current programming online. Unlike NBC, ABC, and Fox, its current shows have not been available on Hulu Plus. While some episodes were available on the CBS app and website, the offering was incomplete. The $6 monthly All Access subscription offers next-day streaming of current TV episodes to mobile devices—iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and computers at The CBS investor newsletter says “going forward” CBS All Access will also be available on “other major connected devices.”

Along with streaming current CBS shows, All Access offers a long list of classic series including such oldies as Perry Mason ,I Love Lucy, Star Trek, Cheers, Frasier, Taxi, Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, and The Brady Bunch.

The CBS App and website also offers live streaming of local stations in CBS’s 14 owned-and-operated markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, San Francisco, and Sacramento. The local live streaming is not available when you are outside of those cities.

Taking advantage of the one week trial period, I watched Survivor on my computer. Playback included a “CBS Sync” sidebar that displayed quotes, related videos and facts about the show that coincided with the current scene. When I tried to cast from the Chrome web browser to the Chromecast connected to my Samsung UHDTV, the video stalled and stuttered. The best experience was to stream to the iPad app and play it on my Apple TV using AirPlay. The most recent episode of The Good Wife played flawlessly in high definition. Like Hulu Plus, subscription fees do not remove commercials. All Access has commercials that cannot be skipped. While watching, each break repeated the same four commercials.

This morning, I checked out the CBSN 24/7 news station. The live news will be anchored by CBS News veterans and correspondents. Jeff Glor, Sunday news anchor for CBS Evening News, and CBS correspondent Elaine Quijano are two of the newscasters. Moonves explained that the streaming news stations won’t have “the costs associated with a cable news network like CNN. This service will provide programming 24/7 to a whole new audience. We are following our viewers with CBS content wherever they are.” The live news feed is available online at Initially live, anchored coverage will only be available weekdays from 9:00 am to midnight ET. The ad-supported live news is supposed to be available on Roku players and Amazon Fire TV. As of this morning, the apps had not been updated to include the live service. By the end of the year, CBSN will be live on Windows 8/8.1, Windows Phone 8/8.1 as well as on Android and “other leading platforms.”

While CBS announced the Showtime stand-alone service, no details have been given. With the new offering, Showtime programs will be available on demand without authentication. For a monthly fee, those who do not subscribe to the premium channel from their TV provider will be able to watch current popular Showtime series.

Streaming CBS is good news for me as it makes cord-cutting a viable choice. CBS has a low-powered station in my town, so I haven’t been able to get the shows over the air from broadcast TV. And because DISH and CBS have had a difficult relationship, the Showtime Anytime streaming app has not been available to DISH subscribers. With the new streaming-only subscription service I will finally be able to get my weekly Homeland fix whenever and wherever I want.

Arnaud32's picture

I have to say that I have never been as mad at a channel as I have towards CBS. being a peying customer to my local TV provider, I refuse to have to pay more to access CBS content on their App.... ABC, NBC, ESPN let you stream live content as long as you are a paying customer to a TV company, yet CBS is trying to rip you off a second time.... need to stop here before I get to annoyed at them once more :)

trynberg's picture

$6.99 to watch forced commercials? Ridiculous. Try again CBS.

Barb Gonzalez's picture
I agree with both of you that the fee is a ripoff for those who have cable. And I have been upset with CBS for years because they can't play nice with DISH. Still, I don't have a local CBS station and I don't want to watch in standard definition, so I'm thrilled to be able to get access to CBS TV shows. But, you're right, CBS should offer the service for free with authentication.