Entertainment

CBS Jumps Into The Suddenly Crowded Video-On-Demand Market

CBS is launching its own video-on-demand service for streaming its on-air content and past shows.

CBS Jumps Into The Suddenly Crowded Video-On-Demand Market
Getty Images / Andrew Burton
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CBS is launching its own video on demand service, so you can watch broadcast TV without sitting in front of the TV.

It’s charging $5.99 a month for unlimited on-demand access to current, previous and classic shows, as well as live streams of local television markets.

There are a couple caveats though: Shows that are still on-air will run with interstitial ads, and no, there won’t be any football broadcasts.

The news triggered immediate discussion of whether it’s worth the asking price.

A writer for Gizmodo called it “the worst deal out there.” “This is such a bad deal in so many ways. Unlike HBO, you don't need a subscription to CBS, so you'd be paying for content you could get for free anyways.”

Ad Age suggests viewers are paying for convenience: access to a wide range of local stations as easy as watching TV, plus fewer commercials overall.

Regardless of whether it’s worth the asking price, CBS is entering an increasingly tough market. its announcement comes a day after HBO revealed plans to offer its own content a la carte for a monthly fee.

The New York Times says this industry-wide trend was inevitable — powered by the pervasive success of Netflix and the increasing momentum of competitors, including Amazon Prime and Hulu.

The shift is happening more quickly than expected, and “with it, the virtual monopoly that cable, satellite and telecommunications companies have had over TV programming is dissipating.”

Amanda Lotz, a professor of communications studies at the University of Michigan, told Marketplace that’s good news.

BEN JOHNSON, MARKETPLACE: “So you think this is a win for consumers?”

AMANDA LOTZ: “I think so. Any time we can begin to unbundle and express exact choice and pay for just the things that we want, I think that’s a move in the right direction for this industry.”

CBS’ service is available now through a new signup page on its website.