Like Hulu before it, CBS All Access is now offering an ad-free version to subscribers willing to fork over an extra $4 per month.
CBS' streaming service, which gives subscribers access to more than 7,500 episodes of current and classic shows as well as livestreams of local CBS stations, rolled out a new commercial-free option today, priced at $9.99 per month.
That's $4 more than the current $5.99 monthly price for what the company calls "reduced commercials," an ad load roughly 25 percent less than that of regular TV, or around 12 minutes per hour.
The $9.99 price tag puts the service at the same monthly rate as Netflix and $2 more than Hulu's plans with ads (though it's $2 less than Hulu's ad-free option).
The ad-free option comes as CBS All Access prepares to debut its first original series. This fall, it will air a digital edition of Big Brother. A new Star Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery, is coming in January, followed next spring by a spinoff of The Good Wife starring Christine Baranski.
"The foundation of CBS All Access is not only about giving CBS fans access to more of the content they want, but also giving them more choice in how they watch their favorite CBS programming," said Marc DeBevoise, CBS Interactive president and COO, in a statement. "The addition of a commercial-free plan gives our subscribers even more ways to customize their CBS viewing experience—from which devices to whether they watch in or out of the home, and now with commercials or without."
However, those subscribers who pony up for the ad-free option won't avoid ads entirely. They'll still see commercials when using CBS All Access to livestream their local CBS station, as it replicates the ads seen on the broadcast.
And ad free doesn't mean promo free. The release said "select on-demand shows"—less than 10 percent of the total episodes available on CBS All Access—will include 15-second promos for CBS content. Subscribers will see a maximum off 30 seconds of promos per half hour.
Earlier this month, DeBevoise told Adweek the company was "contemplating" an ad-free model "in the not-so-distant future."
Last month, during an earnings call, CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves revealed that CBS All Access already has about 1 million subscribers (Showtime's stand-alone streaming service also has around a million subscribers). "[That's] well ahead of where we thought we'd be at this point in the game," said Moonves.
Almost one year ago, Hulu launched an ad-free version of its streaming service. Subscribers can upgrade to an ad-free plan for $11.99 per month, $4 more than the standard $7.99 plan.
At the time, CEO Mike Hopkins stressed to Adweek that "advertising will continue to be central to our business." That point was reiterated by Peter Naylor, Hulu's svp of advertising sales, prior to the company's NewFronts event in May.
"If we had a thousand people sign up today, the vast majority would choose ads," Naylor told Adweek, adding that the ad-free tier helped attract "the hard-core ad avoiders" to the service, while the subscribers for the $7.99 tier, which contains ads, "understand that advertising helps pay the way." That's also helped put advertisers at ease: "Their spending and investment in Hulu hasn't been impacted [by the new tier]," Naylor said.
CBS is hoping for a similar response from its subscribers and advertisers.