Three years after launching CBSN, an all-news digital network, CBS is about to do it again, this time focusing on sports.
The company will roll out a sports-themed, 24-hour livestreaming network later this year, CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves announced during CBS’ earnings call.
The still-unnamed sports network is “part of our ongoing OTT strategy,” according to Moonves. “We think sports fans are looking for something like this, and that opportunity is significant,” he said.
In 2014, CBS rolled out CBSN, which has been “a terrific growth engine for us,” Moonves said, with streams up 38 percent in the past quarter. Last week, CBSN was added to CBS All Access, the company’s streaming subscription service, and Moonves said it is now also a stand-alone channel as the company’s live TV streaming bundle deals with companies like Hulu and, as of this morning, DirecTV Now.
“We’re the early stages of replicating [CBSN’s] success in the world of sports,” said Moonves.
In launching the new digital network, CBS will rely on the same infrastructure it uses for CBSN to keep costs down. “We think we have a good opportunity to succeed,” Moonves said. “The chances of profitability are very good.”
Moonves said that three years ago, CBS opted to create a digital news network, rather than a linear one, because “to begin a brand new cable news network would not be smart” with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC already well-established, Moonves said. “It seemed logical to go into streaming. There’s an opportunity in sports as well.”
“[CBS] is a big player in the sports world,” with deals with the NFL, NCAA basketball and the PGA, said Moonves, who suggested that the new service “could allow us to be a bigger player” and perhaps pick up some exclusive streaming rights to some of those sports.
By adding a sports network to CBSN and its entertainment offerings, Moonves said, “It’s a great opportunity to be all things to all people, and I think we can do it successfully.”
Last week, CBS reorganized its ad sales team, adding Facebook vet David Lawenda to bolster digital ad sales, which should help its efforts in monetizing the new sports offering.
CBS All Access and its Showtime OTT service are set to exceed 4 million combined subscribers by the end of the year, Moonves said. That’s two years into the company’s five-year plan to reach 8 million combined subscribers. The company will expand those services internationally, including into Canada, next year, though Moonves said international subscribers won’t count toward those combined goals.
Moonves said the company enjoyed “tremendous success” in this year’s upfront, where C7 deals were “now standard,” with some deals even being transacted on a 35-day basis.