It’s no secret that streaming and binge-watching have replaced channel surfing as the national pastime, but when Les Moonves says the age of 500 channels or more is “over,” even cable-company hardliners have to take note. And that’s exactly what the CBS chief did this morning while speaking to investors at Deutsche Bank Securities’ 2015 Media, Internet, and Telecom Conference. It served as an assured lead-in to his announcement of the impending release of a direct-to-consumer Showtime streaming service, which will serve as the premium channel’s answer to HBO Now.
The CBS chief admitted to discussing the jump to streaming with a myriad of cable and satellite distributors as of late, a huge triumph considering the fact that these same companies were “skeptical” as recently as last year. Moonves went onto say that he can’t see HBO Now as anything but ”a major positive for premium cable,” before gushing over CBS All Access, the network’s subscription streaming service that he hopes to take nationwide this year.
Moonves brought fiscal facts to back up his confidence in both CBS All Access and Showtime’s streaming service. Among other budget cuts at the networks, he mentioned Stephen Colbert’s hugely anticipated debut as the new host of The Late Show as a money saver, following David Letterman’s retirement from the desk. As Moonves put it, “David is unbelievably loyal. He wouldn’t fire anybody. So we have a lot of people there who were getting paid for not doing very much…The Colbert show will be a bit more economical.”
Regardless of why Moonves is now throwing his full weight behind streaming services, his announcement marks yet another major shift in television production and distribution. Sadly, it seems unlikely that any of this will end with Chuck Lorre retiring, or just going away forever.