Cordcutting Isn’t The Bargain It Used to Be
Are you hooked on all those CBS shows like Angel From Hell, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, and Kevin James Makes That Face Again? Well, pretty soon you’ll be able to watch them all on demand and commercial-free thanks to CBS’s new streaming service tier. And it’s just $10, roughly the same price as Netflix, which by comparison only has a huge catalogue of popular movies and TV shows that people actually want to see.
The past decade has seen a huge shift in media as some people ditch traditional cable TV subscriptions to watch streaming video online. But as more and more traditional media companies start to figure out how to monetize their shows, consumers are discovering that cordcutting can now come with a hefty price tag, if you’re not careful.
CBS first launched its streaming service all the way back in 2014, when classic shows like Friends With Better Lives, Bad Teacher, and Intelligence were gracing our screens (RIP). And ever since, the CBS All Access streaming has cost about $6. But with this new package, we can all have the pleasure of sitting through an action-packed episode of NCIS: New Orleans without all the erectile dysfunction ads.
Now, some people might argue that cordcutters are getting screwed in this new deal, and that ultimately, they’re going to wind up paying more than ever for a la carte channels in the long term. But those people would be wrong. Cordcutting is great for consumers. It’s liberating! It says so right there in the name: Cord-cutting. You’re literally cutting the cord. It doesn’t sound more freedoming than that.
So, let’s see, if you pay for Hulu Plus (which is now just Hulu, since they’re dropping their free tier) that sets you back about $8 per month. And if you go subscription free that’s $12 per month. And Netflix is another $10. And HBO Now is another $15. And obviously you’re going to get the new commercial free CBS, so that’s $10 per month. What are we up to? About $47 before tax? And then you toss on your high-speed internet bill, which you’re probably paying to the cable company anyway. Yeah, this whole cordcutter thing sounds like it liberated consumers alright, doesn’t it?
Update 2:23pm: As Recode’s Peter Kafka reports, CBS’s new “commercial free option” isn’t really even commercial free:
- If you stream a CBS show live, when it first airs, you’ll still see ads — the same ones you’d see on conventional TV, depending on the local TV market you’re in.
- CBS says “select on-demand shows will include promotional interruptions.” I talked to a CBS rep for a translation: The “promotional interruptions” will be brief, but un-skippable, promos — 15 seconds at most, and no more than two promos per half-hour — for other CBS shows. They’ll show up in about 10 percent of CBS’ episodes, and about 20 percent of its titles — generally its newer shows. That’s because CBS has sold on-demand rights to some of those shows to subscription services like Amazon or Netflix, and in some cases those services have exclusive rights to an ad-free “window” for those shows.