Let’s go over the top

HBO_LogoHBO, CBS bypass middlemen to provide content to you, the customer

If there was a turning point in the cord-cutting movement, remember this week.

HBO announced it was launching a streaming service on Wednesday, attempting to attract those “cord-nevers”, the term thrown around for those who refuse or can’t afford to subscribe to cable or satellite. It was followed by CBS Corp.’s announcement Thursday morning of “CBS All-Access”, which is a new streaming service letting viewers stream CBS product and even their local CBS station.

Wednesday’s HBO announcement at Time Warner’s Investor Day took a lot of people by surprise. HBO president Richard Plefer said it was time to remove those barriers preventing those who want HBO but unable to do so. Plefer said it would “work with current partners and explore models with new partners”. HBO’s plan would stream over the ISPs who are also MSOs who carry HBO (e.g. Comcast, Cablevision, RCN, etc.)

HBO did not announce what programming would be available to stream when the service launches in 2015, or how much would it cost.

cbsMeanwhile, CBS announced Thursday morning it was launching its own over-the-top subscription video-on-demand service called CBS All-Access, where viewers can access CBS content from current shows or programming from their library -all from any device. For $5.99/month, you can stream fifteen current CBS shows the day after airing; access to over 5,000 hours of classic TV programming in the CBS library including The Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days, Cheers, Fraiser, and The Game, all commercial-free; full past seasons of eight current CBS Shows, including Blue Bloods and Survivor; and live feeds of Big Brother, when the series returns next summer. (The service is now online. To sign up, click here.)

CBS All-Access also allows consumers in fourteen markets to stream their local CBS affiliate; so far, only markets where CBS owns a station can do so (including WBBM-TV in Chicago.) CBS-owned CW affiliates are not part of the deal (for now), and neither are the rights to certain sporting events, including the NFL. CBS plans to continue making recent episodes of current shows available to non-subscribers on CBS.com. and other partner sites.

HBO and CBS are the latest media companies to make their material “over-the-top”, which means the companies can deliver their programming directly to viewers via the Internet – without the need of cable and satellite doing so. Earlier this year, World Wrestling Entertainment launched the WWE Network as an over-the-top Internet-only channel for $9.99 a month.