It looks like CBS may be dipping its toes into the shallow waters of online content streaming. The company is creating shows specifically for services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, according to CBS chief Les Moonves.
A spokesperson for CBS declined to confirm the news, but instead pointed me to the earnings call transcript.
On an earnings call yesterday, Moonves said that CBS’s TV studio “will be producing more and more shows for more and more outlets, including major streaming companies and other emerging distributors.”
This has been a big year for Internet television. In the last year Netflix has launched two original shows that have seen marked success. And it’s no surprise that media giant CBS would want to tap into the tens of millions of viewers (and growing) that subscribe to streaming services.
It’s a smart move for CBS to seek new revenue sources. In its most recent quarter revenue was down slightly from the same period the year before. That may be a normal downturn for the company, especially after the end of its hit show How I Met Your Mother.
There is no doubt that an increasing number of media outlets online and on mobile are vying for attention. And as our attention is increasingly fragmented, it makes sense that media companies would want to spread their content around, giving their branded programs better visibility.
What’s more, the model isn’t new. Streaming services are built on content from big media houses like CBS. Even production for Netflix’s original series are outsourced; Orange is the New Black is produced by Lionsgate Television, for example.
Television studios already create shows that air on other networks, as is evident in CBS’s recent earnings call. “We are programming for Showtime, for the CW, for other cable networks and for other broadcast networks including a straight-to-series order for ABC,” Moonves said.
But creating original content for online-only channels is something new altogether. It’s a sign that we may increasingly see television providers teaming up with streaming services to catch the growing population of cord-cutters.