Amazon’s a la carte TV subscription service, Amazon Channels, just added another big name to its lineup. Today, Amazon and CBS announced that CBS’s over-the-top streaming service, CBS All Access – yes, the home to the new “Star Trek” – will now be available on Amazon Channels. However, only the higher-priced, $9.99/month commercial-free subscription will be offered for the time being. The lower-cost, $5.99/month Limited Commercials plan will arrive in the “coming months,” CBS said.
The goal with the service – which today is exclusive to Prime subscribers and Prime Video members – is to offer premium programming options as a complement to Amazon Prime Video. The service is aimed at cord cutters who don’t want to buy one of the newer TV subscription services which bundle many channels together, but instead want to build their own lineup.
The current U.S. lineup of over 140 channels includes popular paid subscriptions, like HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, PBS Kids, Sundance Now, and others. It also offers a larger selection of channels aimed at niche audiences – like those featuring lifestyle content, workout and health videos, educational content, horror movies, and more.
At one point, Amazon toyed with the idea of bundling channels to offer its own “skinny bundle” of TV programming to rival Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV and others, but struggled to make deals with the broadcast and cable TV networks. As a result, the company decided to make Amazon Channels’ a la carte programming its main focus going forward. But this move also meant Amazon Channels was lacking in broadcast network content.
With the addition of CBS All Access the channel lineup gets another big draw, thanks to CBS’ current popularity due to its original, streaming-only series, “Star Trek: Discovery,” along with other originals like “The Good Fight” (a “The Good Wife” spinoff), “No Activity,” and more to come, like “$1,” “Strange Angel,” and a new “The Twilight Zone.” The subscription also includes CBS’s back catalog, current broadcast programming, and access to live TV streams in select markets.
The latter is especially important to football fans, as it means access to the NFL on CBS. Live streams also are useful for watching live events, like “The 60th Annual Grammy Awards.”
For CBS, the Amazon deal means access to a broader audience and support for a range of devices via the Prime Video app. The company says Prime members in the U.S. will be able to watch CBS All Access on more than 600 devices via Prime Video’s app for TVs, game consoles, set-top boxes, including Apple TV, and connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV, mobile devices and the web.
HBO drops new ‘Westworld’ Season 2 photos for you to analyze and obsess over
Evan Rachel Wood is not your Season 1 Dolores anymore
We are so very close to returning to Westworld, which premieres on April 22. HBO just released the very first new images and they are as tantalizing as they are gorgeous.
Some include interesting new developments that hint at where Season 2’s plot will go:
Here we see Maeve with her human capture, as we’ve seen bits of in the trailer.
But something we haven’t seen much of yet is evidence that Maeve goes back to Westworld. Presuming this isn’t a flashback, we’ll see her in the new host-ruled park again.
Talulah Riley had a pretty minimal role in Season 1 as the cheerful host who greeted guests during the flashback scenes. But Deadline reported that she would be taking on a bigger, lead role in Season 2: “She will prove to be one of the last faces many guests will ever see.”
Bernard and corporate shill Charlotte teaming up together? Say it ain’t so, Bernard!
The relationship between Dolores and Teddy is definitely about to take an interesting turn.
And here’s a look at the rest, which include new and returning cast members (who are confirmed not dead):
Welp, now we know why ‘Good Girls Revolt’ was canceled
Jeff Bezos’ Hollywood dreams aren’t just coming true they’re paying off.
Reuters has acquired Amazon financial information that for the first time provides insight into just how profitable and widely watched Amazon’s Prime Originals and streaming service are. Significantly, the documents shed light on the financial strategy of Prime Originals — specifically, how Amazon’s entertainment venture contributes to the growth of its Prime subscriber base, and overall subscription business profitability.
Amazon has never released statistics on its total Prime subscriber numbers. But according to the documents, Amazon Prime has a total U.S. audience of about 26 million viewers, which includes its originals as well as shows it licenses from other companies.
Prime Originals’ top television shows drove 5 million new Prime subscriptions by early 2017, according to the leaked documents. Reuters notes that using entertainment programming to draw customers to a Prime subscription is a key proponent of Amazon’s business strategy, a strategy that Jeff Bezos spoke to at a 2016 technology conference. Bezos said at the same conference that users who come to Prime through entertainment are more likely to convert to full-fledged subscriptions through free trials, renew subscriptions annually at higher rates, and even buy more products. So a Prime subscriber drawn in through Originals programming is a valuable one.
And Amazon knows it.
The documents show that Amazon calculates a direct return on investment for each show, based on what it costs to produce versus how many Prime subscriptions it drives. For example, The Man in the High Castle cost $72 million to produce and market, but drove 1.15 million new Prime subscribers. That comes out to a cost of $63 per new Prime subscriber — which is far less than the annual Prime fee of $99. Cha-ching!
The show Good Girls Revolt didn’t achieve similar success in converting viewers to subscribers. It cost $81 million to produce, but only drove 52,000 “first streams” (i.e. new viewers) on Amazon. That made its cost per new customer $1,560 — more than ten times the cost of a one year prime subscription.
Guess which show is still on the air.
(It’s ‘High Castle‘ — Good Girls Revolt was canceled after its first season despite a massive outcry from fans. Now, we know a bit more about why).
Reuters provides a handy graph to illustrate the direct comparison between a show’s overall cost, and its cost per new subscriber.
Critics have questioned Amazon’s programming decisions, saying at times that they were driven by sexism, at times that it was the experiment of a Hollywood outsider. But these financials show that there is indeed a method to Amazon’s madness.
However, is there a downside to evaluating shows based on the new viewers they bring in, as opposed to how well they’re satisfying existing customers? The documents don’t reveal whether this is part of the cancel vs. renew equation. But for loyal Amazon subscribers and viewers, it’s not a good look.
Whether you approve of Amazon’s apparent new viewer-to-subscriber business strategy, one thing’s for sure: Amazon’s entertainment venture is paying off, big time.
We’re already invested in the ‘Rise’ companion web series
NBC’s Rise — a new show about a group of high school students putting on a musical and their trials and tribulations — is about the kids who are stars. The companion web series, however, focuses on an entirely different part of high school theater: The understudies.
The Understudies‘ digital videos will follow students not at the forefront of Stanton High School’s production of Spring Awakening. Though we find out about the group through Michael (Ellie Desautels), we’ve already got a core cast of stage-starved misfits ready to charm.
The first installment of Understudies isn’t super subtle, focusing mainly on one girl who thinks she deserves a lead in the musical because she put in time with the teacher and did tech for a whole year (tech ≠ acting, so not sure where that experience was going). Instead of plotting any ill will against the main leads, the understudies hang out, bond, and play a game of Never Have I Ever.
The Understudies will total nine episodes throughout Rise‘s first season. Who knows, if the show gets renewed, some of them may get a shot at a lead.
Rise airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.