Deadline reports that CEO Les Moonves announced to investors Wednesday the “strong possibility” that both Showtime and CBS will soon be available to consumers through Internet streaming and outside of a bundled cable package. Moonves’ trial balloon comes just days after HBO floated one of its own.
Like HBO, Moonves is probably talking about an online-only option for the tens of millions of Millennials who watch television on their portable devices and refuse to purchase bundled cable. The tech-savvy will have no problem, though, directing this “online only” signal to their 55-inch high-def plasma televisions.
The Moonves announcement is even bigger than HBO’s for one very important reason: Football.
One reason good people, like my lovely wife, are so reticent to cut the cord on the legal racket that is bundled cable is sports. Other than the outrageously-priced packages offered by some satellite companies (that have moved to a streaming option), if you cut the cable cord, you’re going to lose access to a lot of sports programming.
CBS carries both NFL and college football. If CBS breaks from the bundled cable plantation, it will represent a huge crack in one of the last remaining incentives to bend over for our Bundled Cable Overlords.
With a tweak here and a massage there, it feels to me as though Moonves and HBO believe they can finesse the problem of droves of Millenials refusing to get raped by Bundled Cable. The reality is that the demographics represent The Apocalypse for bundled cable and these little surrenders to that reality are huge cracks in the dam.
Should HBO, Showtime, and CBS go this route, the vicious circle will be vicious. The more good stuff available outside of bundled cable, the more people will cancel bundled cable, the more individual networks will feel pressured to go online, the more people will cancel bundled cable…
The result is that The Market will rule again. All these lousy, low-rated networks bundled cable forces you into paying for (CNN, MTV, MSNBC, etc.) will have to survive on viewership alone.
Good luck with that.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC